Matt Dillon Headshot

A record year for EVs. A record year for home deliveries. What comes next? Ideally, the electric van boom.

Up until recently, electric LCVs (e-LCVs) were considered somewhat of a fantasy. Batteries weren’t powerful enough - and were too big and cumbersome – to allow for proper cargo transportation.

But manufacturers have since cracked those problems. Advancements in battery technology have made electric LCVs just as viable as electric cars, and as such, there’s a growing number of models available. Then there’s the financial incentives: earlier this year chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 0% benefit-in-kind tax on zero emission, fully electric vans, making e-LCVs more affordable than ever for those businesses who allow private use of vans.

Then why, with a greater choice of vehicles and cost savings, are they still not on a parallel trajectory with EVs? Some experts would even argue that they’re four to five years behind.

What’s more, the need for greener vans has never been greater. We live in an age of increasing home deliveries, where consumers want products now, not tomorrow. LeasePlan’s latest 'Mobility insights report' found that 47% of people are now more likely to use online shopping and opt for home delivery for discretionary spending. This means more LCVs on the road, more stops and more journeys to and from the depot. Naturally, all of this will have an impact on local air quality.

But meeting recent booming demand for online shopping and delivery services doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing air quality in our towns and cities. That’s according to our latest LCV report, which found that e-LCVs have, as a matter of fact, come a long way to meet that demand.

There are three main trends that have influenced this uptake: low emission zones; local and sustainable city hubs alongside the increase in last mile delivery; and digital applications helping to create a more optimised delivery process through telematics.

Yet there is still a long way to go in making e-LCVs the default option. We need that catalyst that pushes e-LCVs over the tipping point.

Part of the answer lies in awareness raising, the other in the government providing the necessary support to make them more attractive to businesses.

Range anxiety continues to be a sticking point for many fleet decision makers. But consider this: nowadays, many e-LCVs can travel between 100 and 200 miles on a single charge, while 50% of all LCVs travel less than 62 miles a day. And there’s a fast-growing network of over 20,000 charge points around the country. So, no-one should really feel anxious about range.

Then there’s the perceived barrier of cost. While it’s true that e-LCVs are still comparatively expensive to their ICE equivalent from a capital cost perspective, many fleet operators find that the total cost of ownership is less. For this reason, many large fleets are already getting ahead and making the transition.

Perhaps the biggest challenge when switching to an electric fleet is the significant culture and operational change that’s required. Driver training and awareness is critical, so fleet decision makers will need to keep this front of mind to ensure a successful transition.

With further advances in the market expected over the next 12 to 24 months, we’re likely to see significant uptake during this time. Now is the right time for fleet operators to review their options – for many of them, e-LCVs are a viable option now, and so it makes sense to start their journey sooner rather than later. Don’t forget, the 2030 ban includes vans too!

To accelerate the growing momentum behind e-LCVs, though, the government will need to continue to incentivise businesses to transition to zero emission vans. This support is what will really make the difference.

We’re all looking forward to a future where cleaner, greener vans become the norm. In the e-LCV market, change is coming soon, and new models have the potential to fundamentally reshape fleet operations, enabling organisations to achieve net-zero operations.

Matt Dillon, head of commercial vehicles, LeasePlan UK