The manufacturer has called for increased state support to make battery-powered vans a more attractive business proposition for urban users and has increasingly focused on developing gas-powered vehicles.

Henk van Leuven, Iveco’s managing director, claims it costs £30,000 to convert a £15,000 light commercial vehicle to run on electricity and a further £20,000 to equip it with two batteries, thus making a grand total of £65,000.

Van Leuven assumed the van would cover 18,000 miles a year with running costs of £1000, compared to the £6000 it would cost to fuel a diesel van.

He said the batteries could need replacing after five years, necessitating a further outlay of £20,000 and put the van’s lifecycle at 10 years.

He concluded it would take 17 years to recover the investment in an electric LCV – or 12 years in London when factoring in the congestion charge savings.

“There is no payback because of the vehicle’s lifecycle,” said van Leuven.

He called on the UK Government to introduce payload bonuses for low carbon commercial vehicles, similar to incentives offered in France, or purchasing incentives like those offered in Holland.

Van Leuven also suggested non-fiscal incentives for low carbon vans, such as allowing nighttime deliveries or the use of bus lanes.

Iveco’s product director Martin Flach struck a positive note, saying it was “only a matter of time” before incentives are introduced in the UK and prices come down as battery technology develops.

Of the 3510 Daily vans of 2.8 – 7 tonnes Iveco sold in the UK last year the vast majority were diesel engined. Just 26 were powered by compressed natural gas (CND) and none were electric. The manufacturer produced its first electrically powered Daily in 1986.