Britain’s Freight Transport Organisation (FTA) says the majority (71%) of UK van operators intend to use electric vehicles in their fleets this year, according to its 2019 Logistics Report with Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking.

FTA is calling on government to recognise this shift in intention and increase its investment into electric vehicle affordability.

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

“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. 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.”

For the report, FTA polled the opinions of more than 500 freight and logistics businesses operating in the UK and internationally to provide industry insight.  

The survey found a further 24% of van operators plan to use range-extended vehicles in their fleet, 41% plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and 7% vehicles fuelled by hydrogen (for use by Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles).

“As testament to the value it provides to the UK economy, the vans market continues to grow consistently, with 13% of survey respondents planning to increase their van fleet over the next 12 months,” added Beedell.

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

“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.”