Part of the proposal is to authorise a weight increase of up to one tonne for vehicles with an electric or hybrid drivetrain without prejudice to the payload.
A spokesman for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which lobbied for the revision, said: “Load allowances are compromised by heavier equipment. If the additional weight is written off, the operator gets the benefits of EVs without the drawback of compromised load-carrying.”
He added that operators switching to EVs would therefore still be able to carry the maximum payloads within the parameters set for conventional diesel vans.
Crucial to operators of 3.5-tonne vans is whether they could still be driven by a holder of a regular driving licence if conversion to an electric or hybrid drivetrain pushed the GVW above
3.5 tonnes, which is the maximum weight permissible under a regular licence.
The Freight Transport Association is pushing for the weight limit to be raised to 3.9 tonnes for electric vans without necessitating the need for an Operator’s licence or the more stringent maintenance requirements covering HGVs. James Hookham, the FTA’s Policy and Communications boss, said he expects the Commission to make a decision on the weight issue by September.
A spokesman for hybrid van maker Ashwoods Automotive said an electric drivetrain cuts a van’s payload by up to 400kg while a hybrid reduces the capacity by about 70kg.
“If they can be heavier (due to the electric or hybrid drivetrain) but can still be driven on the same licence with the same payload it will be extremely useful,” he said.