The logistics sector needs more support from the UK Government in order for fleet operators to electrify, according to industry body Logistics UK.

It has published a new report, entitled Electric Vehicle Report 2023, arguing that factors including a lack of fiscal support and an inadequate public charging network are having a significant impact on the confidence of operators to invest in EVs.

It points out that in 2022, EVs represented only 0.9% of the UK’s van fleet ­– although this was up from 0.3% in 2019 – and says that while 62% of the businesses surveyed for the report plan to have decarbonised their fleets by 2030, significant barriers remain.

Logistics UK chief executive David Wells said: “The logistics sector is fully aware of its responsibilities to decarbonise and is keen to do so. However, with respondents reporting wide ranging costs to upgrade their energy supplies to depots – between £100,000 and over £1million – a lack of meaningful scrappage schemes, acquisition costs on the rise and volatile energy prices, it is an uphill battle that cannot continue without increased support from government. 

“Our industry operates on very narrow margins of around 1% and with significant inflationary pressures, increased wage bills and the rise in total road vehicle operating costs, logistics businesses need supportive fiscal measures to be able to upgrade their fleets and energy supplies without having to pass on increased costs to customers.”

Will all survey respondents said to have cited energy supply as their top priority, Logistics UK is also calling for a fair and equitable approach to funding depot electricity connection.

Wells said: “Significant frustration was expressed by our members who regularly use current public chargepoints, with respondents reporting difficulties in finding available EV chargepoint spaces and many encountering broken or inoperable chargers. 

“With further issues surrounding the suitability of existing charging facilities for commercial vehicles, Logistics UK is calling for an EV charging and refuelling infrastructure roadmap to be prioritised. This must be designed in collaboration with operators, backed with clear guidance and incentives for local authorities. 

“A significantly accelerated rollout of public charging infrastructure that is fully accessible to commercial vehicles, with clear milestones for minimum levels of suitable chargepoint provision across the country, must be an urgent priority for government if our industry is to meet its net zero priorities by 2050.”

The cost and availability of new EVs is also said to be a concern for the logistics sector, with long order lead times and a lack of viable scrappage schemes said to be putting heavy cost burdens on businesses, particularly SMEs.

Wells said: “The lifecycle of a vehicle is carefully worked into any logistics business’s budget, to ensure continuity while keeping costs down. 

“Our members should not be expected simply to write off the cost of any vehicles they operate – which could run to thousands of pounds for every operator.

“A supportive scrappage scheme should be in place to ensure that logistics businesses can stay on the roads without incurring further, punitive costs.”