More than two-thirds of van operators are planning to use electric vehicles in their fleets this year, according to the FTA.

The organisation’s 2019 Logistics Report, launched in association with Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking, has revealed that 71.4% of operators asked are planning the move.

The FTA says it is therefore calling on the government to recognise this shift in attitudes and increase its investment in electric vehicle affordability.

FTA policy manager for vans and urban Denise Beedell said: “The FTA and its members are fully committed to reducing their carbon emissions wherever possible; we are not surprised, therefore, that so many intend to use electric vehicles in their van fleets but they will need assistance from government to be able to do so.

“By providing clear guidance on how it plans to upgrade the grid infrastructure – without all the costs falling on individual businesses – legislators would make the shift to electric an attractive option for companies of all sizes and shapes. But more must be done to ensure it is a fully viable low-emission solution.

“For example, electric vans are still significantly more expensive to purchase than their standard fuel-based counterparts; public charging points must be available for use by businesses as well as residents.

“The FTA is calling on government to review its approach to the grid infrastructure upgrade – a costly project which should not be left to individual commercial operators to fund.”

The FTA report, for which more than 500 UK freight and logistics businesses were surveyed, also found that 24% of operators plan to use range-extended vehicles in their fleet, 41% plan to use plug-in hybrids, and 7% plan to use vehicles fuelled by hydrogen.

Among the other information in the report is a highlighting of the number of van drivers who are EU nationals, prompting the FTA to call for government support for logistics workers before and after Brexit.

Beedell said: “The van market continues to grow consistently, with 13% of survey respondents planning to increase their van fleet over the next 12 months. But the UK is facing a serious van driver shortage; these fears are exacerbated by the large proportion of EU nationals currently working across the vans market in the UK.

“The survey found that 20% of all professional van drivers are EU nationals, but as this does not include people for whom van driving is not their primary role – plumbers and florists, for example – the figure is likely to be much higher.

“The FTA is calling for government support to ensure non-UK logistics workers are welcomed in the UK, both before and after Brexit, to prevent the shortage reaching catastrophic levels.”