Legislators need to consider the benefits and limitations of electric vans when they make decisions, especially at a local level.

That’s according to leasing company Arval, which says that with responsibility for air quality increasingly falling to individual cities, a solid understanding of the vehicles’ capabilities is needed.

Arval’s LCV product manager Eddie Parker said the issue had become particularly apparent in discussions about the implementation of clean air zones.

He said: “Within these dialogues, electric vans have tended to be talked about in the same breath as electric cars, without any awareness of the payload limitations that are currently inherent in the use of electric light commercial vehicles.

“As the industry now realises, these lose range very quickly when laden and that makes the applications for which they are suitable quite specific.

“They are not at the same level of operational practicality as the electric cars with which legislators are probably much more familiar.”

Parker said these limitations were the main reason why the adoption of electric vans had lagged behind that of electric cars.

He said: “If you know that you are driving a distance each day that is within the range of an electric car and have access to a charger, it is relatively easy to swap out of your current petrol or diesel.

“The situation is not the same for electric vans. As they are laden, the range drops very, very quickly so the applications for which they are suitable are, so far, relatively limited.

“Our view is that the fleet sector at both a national and local level needs to ensure that legislators have a good understanding of these issues.

“We have seen from the clean air zone debates that cars and vans tend to be seen as one type of vehicle when, from an operational point of view, they are not.”

Parker said that a drive towards education was necessary, with cities likely to want to move towards ever cleaner air in years to come.

He said: “In five years, if we are planning the next round of clean air zones, it will be very difficult for fleets if legislators want to create zero emissions zones and expect electric van use to become widespread as a result.

“Unless there is a step change in the available technology, such a move will create massive issues for fleets operating in those areas.

“We need to ensure that the people making these decisions are properly informed.”