Progressing Zero Emissions Van Deployments is Top of Fleet List for 2024, says AFP

Date: 9th January 2024

Progressing zero emissions van deployment is top of the fleet agenda for 2024, according to the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).

Chair Paul Hollick said that the issue was proving difficult for some businesses with several tricky practical and strategic issues needed to be overcome.

“The view of most van fleets is that electrification, which obviously forms the backbone of the move towards zero emissions, is going to be very much an incremental process because of compromises imposed by the current technology when it comes to key areas such as payload, range and charging.

“Across our membership, the feeling is that these issues can be resolved but that it will take time and a wide range of strategies will need to be applied. For us, it appears that making progress in these areas – and the incremental best practice policies that need to be developed to make this happen – will be the dominant fleet topic for 2024.”

The most immediate problem to tackle, he added, was probably resolving 4.25 tonne electric van derogation, which has been beset by a degree of confusion that had caused many fleets to cancel or delay orders.

 “We’re talking to the relevant official bodies about this and are hopeful that workable solutions will soon appear. Being able to practically operate 4.25t electric panel vans is central to many fleets’ zero emissions plans and this is something that is very much acting as a roadblock to progress.”

A longer-term issue that also needed attention was finding solutions to van charging, with both rapid proliferation of on-street chargers and better access to forecourt charging facilities sorely needed.

“Where drivers can charge a van on their driveway overnight, fleet operations have a head start. However, it is now known that around half live in terraced houses or apartments. The ideal solution to this conundrum is on-street charging and the AFP has been working on a national ‘heat map’ in recent months to show where these are most needed, making the data available to relevant parties such as local authorities and charger companies.

“Also, we’ve been talking to charging companies about better access to forecourt chargers. Simply, the bays are often not big enough or aren’t designed to accommodate light commercial vehicles, and this is proving a major hindrance to fleets that want to use electric vans. Like on-street charging, this is not a problem that will be solved overnight but we are hopeful that progress will be made on both these fronts in 2024.”

The AFP is also planning to create a new working group to investigate the practicalities of shared depot charging, where fleets provide mutual access to on-site facilities.

“We know from our research that there is much potential interest in this idea. What we now need to work out is whether it can be made to work on a practical level,” Paul said.

A further subject that was likely to be on the minds of fleet operators looking for zero emissions solutions in 2024 was hydrogen, he added.

“We’ll be saying more about this soon but the arrival of the Vauxhall e-Vivaro Hydrogen represents probably the first viable opportunity for van fleets to adopt hydrogen. The advantages are a fast refuelling time, 250 mile range, and a purchase price as low as £32,000. The list of disadvantages is long though, starting with a refuelling infrastructure that is so small that it barely exists.

“However, it is clear that at least some of our members are keen to try this vehicle in operational roles where electric vans are considered impractical, creating a multi-fuel zero emissions strategy.”

All of these subjects illustrated the value of being a member of the AFP for van fleet operators, Paul concluded.

“It’s a moment when having access to the expertise and ongoing dialogue that is present within the AFP has massive benefits for any light commercial vehicle fleet that is working towards zero emissions.”

Find out more about AFP membership here – Membership – AFP (