The van fleet sector is facing a potential problem with electrification sceptics, according to software firm Fleetcheck.

It said the sector appeared to be splitting into thirds over electric van adoption – enthusiastic adopters, those who saw electrification as inevitable, and those who were determined to resist it for as long as possible.

Managing director Peter Golding said that while the idea of thirds was “a useful simplification”, it also appeared to be largely true among the company’s user base.

He said: “We all know about the major fleets that are buying hundreds of eLCVs and blazing a trail, and there are those who are not enthusiastic but view the arrival of electric vans as something they just have to do.

“However, it is not difficult to find others who are determined to drag their heels and this has potential implications for fleet van operations. 

“Especially among SMEs, it is not unusual to find vehicles that are 6-8 years old still in daily use. Even though diesel [van] production ends in 2030, they could still conceivably be in use a decade later, which is highly undesirable.

“Now, the views of these sceptics are likely to be gradually changed over time when they see other people successfully using eLCVs – but they are still likely to prove a potential drag on the overall move towards electrification.”

Golding said that a process of education alongside a range of operational and fiscal incentives and disincentives may be necessary to convince objectors to switch.

He said: “The main concern that I have heard from most electric van sceptics are about cost and range, and perhaps more needs to be done to show how these issues are being tackled over time. 

“The installation of kerbside charging and the way in which the prices of electric vehicles should fall are important points, as is the potential for PHEVs as a stepping stone to 2030.

“Also, there will be operational disincentives such as the growth of clean air zones and potentially market incentives such as ongoing vehicle subsidies and taxation measures. All of these have a part to play in changing minds.

“However, we also shouldn’t shy away from simply promoting the environmental benefits of van electrification. It is very possible that within a few years, businesses seen to be using diesel vehicles will be viewed as out of touch by consumers, and there is every possibility that will equally apply to major corporations and small local companies.”