Electric van being charged

Better range labelling on electric vans “critical to adoption”

A better labelling system for the range of electric vans is becoming “critical to adoption”, says the Association of Fleet Professionals.

Paul Hollick

Paul Hollick

The organisation first highlighted the inadequacies of the existing WLTP figures last year and, says chair Paul Hollick, this winter has only made the problem more apparent.

“We’ve had reports during the last few weeks from operators of electric vans with a WLTP range of 200 miles experiencing half that range with a full load in cold conditions. That’s a reduction that is extremely difficult for fleet managers to work their way around in operational terms.

“Ultimately, it means that the official data designed to guide fleets towards making informed buying decisions is at best, inaccurate and, at worst, leads to the purchase of vehicles that are not fit for purpose. These are very expensive mistakes for businesses to be making.”

Paul said that WLTP labelling for vans needed to cover not just a load-free vehicle in warm conditions but a variety of payload and weather variations.

“Ideally, we’d end up with a grid that perhaps showed how vans operated with no load, a medium load and a full load in warm, normal and cold conditions. Also, it would be useful to know something about towing capacity. This is not a complex or onerous request but a fundamental one bearing in mind the technology.

“Ultimately, having an accurate idea of how electric vans will perform in real world conditions is critical to their successful adoption. Fleet managers can’t make informed buying decisions without having a good indication of range. Instead, they are coming into work on cold mornings and finding that the routes they had planned are unviable, sometimes creating huge difficulties.”

Paul added that it was important to underline that many fleets were operating electric vans without issue because their operational needs were less demanding.

“If you’re allocating electric vans with a light load to local routes, then you are unlikely to encounter any problems, and we have many members in that position for whom electrification is proving relatively easy. However, if you have bought a van with a 200 mile range because you need a 200 mile range, then the WLTP figures could result in you acquiring a vehicle that just doesn’t meet your requirements.

“What we need to happen is for the WLTP standard for electric vans to change but as the agreement is made at a United Nations level, bringing that pressure to bear is extraordinarily difficult, especially in a short timeframe. Perhaps there is potential for the UK to introduce its own labelling system alongside WLTP, perhaps as a manufacturer initiative and especially for light commercial vehicles, but this may also be a long shot.

“However, what is abundantly clear is that the existing WLTP range figures for electric vans are not fit for purpose and are acting as a potential roadblock to adoption. It’s a situation that benefits no-one – not manufacturers, not fleets, and not governments who want to see rapid adoption of zero emissions vehicles.”

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