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High levels of interest from fleet operators for zero emission vehicles will drive a “dramatic shift” to electric vans, according to research from the Arval Mobility Observatory.

Despite a plethora of obstacles that still need to be overcome – including a lack of models, limited range and supply, as well as the extra payload – Arval said its research revealed growing enthusiasm for battery electric power in light CVs.

Half of respondents said they were already running hybrids, or planned to do so within the next three years, and almost half (48%) said they were already running plug-in hybrids, or planned to do so over the same time frame.

The survey also asked why companies wanted to adopt low and zero emission vans, with the top three responses showing a wish to drive down emissions; a need to reduce fuel expenses and a desire to improve their company image.

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Shaun Sadlier, UK head of Arval Mobility Observatory, said: “Even more so than their car counterparts, van fleets wanting to adopt low or zero emission vehicles have been hampered by both a lack of models and limited supply.

“This can be seen in the wide gap between the current adoption rate and that to which they aspire.

“But this situation is changing rapidly, so with a much wider range of electric and plug-in hybrid vans arriving on the market, we expect to see a dramatic shift.”

Sadlier added: “In some respects, these new vans are arguably less popular than electric and hybrid cars because their ranges tend to be limited and are also affected by the weight of the payload carried – but there is undeniably a high level of interest from fleets, as our research very firmly indicates.”

In a panel discussion at the recent Commercial Motor Show, DPD marketing director Tim Jones said that barriers to electric van take-up included availability of rapid charging infrastructure and vehicle availability and price, with the Mercedes eSprinter currently valued at £55,000 and the VW eCrafter £60,000.