The British van sector has started 2024 with a major achievement, with January seeing the arrival of the 60,000th battery electric van (BEV) on our roads since 2018. It follows almost 1,200 new BEVs being registered in the month – a sign that the market is accelerating, but it needs to move faster still.
Businesses are actively reducing their carbon footprint and, with more than 28 different electric van models on the last year, buyers have unprecedented choice to invest in the latest zero emission vehicles. But BEVs represented only 4.9% of the market share in January – below the 5.9% average across 2023. The industry outlook is that BEV volumes will increase to 9.4% across 2024, slightly short of the 10% target mandated by government. The flexibilities provided by the Vehicle Emissions Trading Scheme will allow manufacturers to offset this initial shortfall but more operators must be given the confidence to switch over the next six years.
Access to the Plug-in Van Grant is crucial, as it aids businesses in making an environmentally conscious choice that is also a financially sound one. But ultimately, operators that want to successfully transition their fleet this year and beyond still depend on significant growth in delivery of public charging infrastructure. It is positive that some LEVI funding is now going out to local authorities, and that chargepoint provision on motorways is getting better, but more must be done so that electric mobility is accessible to people in all parts of the country. It is also crucial to boost van-dedicated infrastructure, rather than chargers with only cars in mind, given that vans comes different shapes and bigger sizes.
Success of the future is very much at the forefront as we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, with SMMT hosting its annual parliamentary Apprentice Showcase, offering parliamentarians the opportunity to hear from apprentices in the industry. It was great to have light and heavy vehicle OEMs, their experts and apprentices in attendance to discuss the challenges and opportunities they have in the industry. With the industry undergoing significant transformation, automotive’s 5,000 apprentices this year are poised for exciting careers ahead – and the positive steps we take today to boost our sector will mean that they can reap the benefits.