Van operators forecast more electric vehicles in two years 29 April 2015

Adoption of electric vans and others running with alternative fuels will accelerate over the next two years, according to the latest quarterly Company Van Trends research from GE Capital, Fleet Services.

Its study among van fleet operators suggests that one third (34%) of fleets plan to operate more fully electric commercial vehicles in that timeframe. Almost as many (29%) say they will be using more electric range extenders.

There is also a high level of support for hybrid power (22%), hydrogen (16%) and natural gas (11%) – compared with low numbers forecasting a rise in conventional fuels. Just 4% back petrol and diesel.

However, Simon Cook, Fleet LCV leader at GE Capital UK, sounds a cautionary note.

"The first thing ... is that these figures do not suggest that a third of new LCVs will be electric in two years. They indicate that around a third of fleets believe they will have more presence," he exoplains.

"While we are starting to see electric vans appear in small numbers of fleets, sales for 2014 were still in the hundreds compared to an overall new LCV market that comfortably beat 300,000 units," he continues.

"To move from today's position to that indicated in the survey over a two year timescale seems extremely unlikely. However ... more and more fleets are taking an interest in a wide range of alternative fuels and are keen to try them out."

Cook also makes the point that life has been tough for electric van manufacturers to date, with market penetration in the UK very low. But he now expects issues such as the London Congestion Charge and green aspirations to change mindsets.

"Commercial vehicle operators are essentially conservative and are driven by the need to keep vehicles on the road and costs contained. New technologies such as these will always take a long time to make a real impact on the market."

Company Van Trends is a quarterly survey carried out for GE Capital Fleet Services that looks at key issues facing van fleets.

Brian Tinham

Related Companies
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