Internal combustion engines, in mostly diesel rather than petrol form, power the vast majority of light commercial vehicles on the UK’s roads.
Euro6 diesel powertrains are cleaner, more refined and efficient than their predecessors and continue to make a compelling case to be considered by operators as their fuel of choice.
But with deteriorating air quality having taken over from CO2 emissions as the chief environmental concern, diesel engines are in the firing line – with a big green finger pointing at them whenever the subject of NOx, or emissions of particulate matter (soot), is raised.
Diesels have not been helped either by the furore over the results of laboratory-based New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) emissions testing bearing little relation to real-world performance.
The movement to find viable alternatives to diesel – from compressed natural gas (CNG) to petrol-electric hybrids to full-electric vans – is gathering momentum, particularly with the Government announcing that it wants the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles banned from 2040.
Businesses buy LCVs to carry out specific tasks – they can’t easily downsize, so large van operators will welcome the Government’s pledge to look at solving the payload handicap caused by the weight of the batteries by extending the permitted weight limit for drivers holding regular licences (that’s nearly all LCV drivers) from 3.5 to 4.25 tonnes for electric vans.