Electric van ‘sceptics’ risk slowing switch away from ICE vehicles

charging plug

The mass adoption of electric light commercial vehicles (eLCVs) is being put at risk by sceptics determined to cling on to their internal combustion engine (ICE) vans, says FleetCheck.

Peter Golding, managing director at the fleet management software company, says that the van fleet sector appears to be splitting into thirds over eLCV adoption.

He labels the three groups as enthusiastic adopters, those who see electrification as inevitable, and others who were determined to resist electric vans as long as possible.

“The idea of ‘thirds’ is, of course, a useful simplification but also largely true, as far as we can see across our user base at this point in time,” explained Golding.

“We all know about the major fleets that are buying hundreds of eLCVs and blazing a trail, and there are those who are not enthusiastic but view the arrival of electric vans as something they just have to do.

“However, it is not difficult to find others who are determined to drag their heels, and this has potential implications for fleet van operations.”

It is not unusual to find vehicles that are 6-8 years old still in daily use among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), says Golding.

“Even though diesel production ends in 2030, they could still conceivably be in use a decade later, which is highly undesirable.”

He believes that the views of these “sceptics” are likely to be gradually changed over time when they see other people successfully using eLCVs. However, he said: “They are still likely to prove a potential drag on the overall move towards electrification.”

A process of education alongside a range of operational and fiscal incentives and disincentives may be necessary to convince objectors to switch, according to Golding.

He continued: “The main concern that I have heard from most electric van sceptics are about cost and range, and perhaps more needs to be done to show how these issues are being tackled over time.

“The installation of kerbside charging and the way in which the prices of electric vehicles should fall are important points, as is the potential for PHEVs as a stepping-stone to 2030.

“Also, there will be operational disincentives such as the growth of Clean Air Zones and potentially market incentives such as ongoing vehicle subsidies and taxation measures. All of these have a part to play in changing minds.

“However, we also shouldn’t shy away from simply promoting the environmental benefits of van electrification. It is very possible that within a few years, businesses seen to be using diesel vehicles will be viewed as out of touch by consumers, and there is every possibility that will equally apply to major corporations and small local companies.”

Based in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, FleetCheck, a fleet software and management company, was established in 2006. It has a customer base of more than 1,300 businesses totalling in excess of 120,000 vehicles using its fleet software solutions.

The company also offers a range of additional services including telematics, risk management, driver training, licence checking, fleet documentation, fleet policy creation and strategy implementation.

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