On Tuesday, 10 October 2023, the Department for Transport unveiled the outcomes of its 'Driving Licence Flexibility for Alternatively-Fuelled Vehicles' consultation. This move signifies a significant step towards bolstering the adoption and accessibility of zero-emission vans, ultimately aiding the sector's pursuit of net-zero targets.
Steve Latham, Head of NFDA's Commercial Vehicle Division, said: "It is positive to see the Department for Transport take on board the views of National Franchised Dealer Association (NFDA) from our consultation response submitted in August 2022, when coming to a decision for driving licence regulations for zero emission trucks and vans. Adapting current regulation to enhance the uptake and accessibility of zero emission vans is an important step towards the sector reaching net-zero targets."
The government's consultation aimed to provide additional support for the transition of the heavy alternative-fueled vehicle market to zero emissions. It also acknowledged the unique requirements of these vehicles, given their increased weight. Despite progress, the electric van market continues to face challenges. The market share for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) increased by a modest 2% (from 4.4% to 6.4%) between September 2022 and 2023. Barriers such as limited range, higher initial costs, and concerns about charging infrastructure continue to impede the growth of electric vans.
The NFDA's consultation response emphasized three key areas that the government has now acted upon:
- Removing Additional Training Requirement: The government will eliminate the 5-hour training requirement, making it easier for drivers to transition to zero-emission vans with the same ease as their petrol or diesel counterparts.
- Types of Vehicles Eligible for Flexibility: The flexibility offered in the new regulations will extend to all types of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), beyond goods vans.
- Towing Allowances: ZEVs operating under the new licence flexibility will be permitted to tow a vehicle and trailer combination weighing up to 7,000kg MAM, under the same conditions as equivalent internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
Steve Latham further highlighted, "While NFDA welcomes the government's response to industry feedback in eliminating aspects of previous regulations that discouraged the adoption of heavier electric vans, there are still outdated rules regarding tachograph usage if the vehicle travels more than 62 miles from its base and obligatory yearly HGV testing at ATFs for these vehicle types. The NFDA is committed to conveying dealers’ concerns directly to government on the topic of inhibiting electric van regulation."