The area of the fleet industry most in need of support to transition to EVs is the van market, according to the BVRLA.

The rental and leasing industry body has published its latest Road to Zero Report Card, looking at the road transport industry’s progress towards decarbonisation, which picks out increasing support for the van transition as a key recommendation.

Commenting on the report’s findings at the BVRLA’s Fleets in Charge conference, organisation’s director of corporate affairs Toby Poston said: “If we were going to highlight one sector of the market that really is in a bit of trouble and needs support it is the van market. 

“Whether that’s in terms of financial support, trying to bridge that cost gap and charging gap, whether it’s in terms of the chargepoint experience for vans, where they are really a bit of a second thought in some areas where there is just a lack of information, a lack of knowledge around which chargepoints they can use reliably and effectively. 

“And then in terms of the supply chain, where yes there are more and more models coming out, but there is still a real feeling in the industry that they don’t yet have the sort of range and performance that is needed across the full range of use cases that vans have.”

According to the report, early enthusiasm for electric vans is being dampened by operational realities, with high costs, poor range, and a lack of appropriate infrastructure all causing concern, with operators of larger vans faced particular infrastructure difficulties.

Speaking during the conference, David Petts of Ford said that some action was still needed to change perceptions of electric vans.

He said: “TCO generally does prove out, as long as you are not using public charging, that BEV is beneficial versus diesel, certainly for fleets using depot charging. But we as an industry still have to do an element of mythbusting. 

“I’ve attended some events in the past where customers have stood up saying ‘I’m not buying a BEV because it’s 100% more expensive than a diesel’. The E-Transit is now between 7% and 14% more expensive than the current diesel, but that myth of being 100% more expensive is still there. 

“Most of the sort of big fleets are looking at the TCO aspect, but you might say that some of those are the early adopters, and I fear that maybe the early adopter phase has come rolling past us now, where now we’re looking at the majority. They’re sort of buying ones and two to see how it works operationally, which is the right thing to do for them from a business point of view, but difficult for an OEM where we need to scale up.”