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Electric van shortages holding back businesses from switching to clean vehicles

20 June 2023, 9:11 UTC 2 min read

Businesses can’t get hold of the electric vans needed to switch their fleets due to supply shortages, which is severely hampering their vital transition to clean vehicles, the international NGO Climate Group said today.  

Climate Group represents 28 leading UK businesses, including BT Openreach, LeasePlan and Royal Mail through the UK Electric Fleets Coalition 

Shortage of EV supply is most acute in the UK’s commercial van sector, with businesses ready to invest but unable to secure the electric vehicles that meet their specifications in the quantity they need.  

Figures released recently by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that less than 3% (or one in 24) of new van registrations were battery electric vehicles (BEVs), with only 25 models available for purchase in the UK.  

Thanks to much more variety and wider availability, the market share of electric cars in the overall car market is three times greater than fully electric van’s share of the UK’s van market. Shortages are slowing uptake and causing it to lag behind. 

According to Climate Group, manufacturers have a mountain to climb to ramp up variety and quantity ahead of 2024, when the first sales targets for zero-emission cars and vans come into force through the UK’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate. 

“Market uptake of electric vans must accelerate. The businesses we work with are keen to buy the vehicles, but they can’t get them in the number and specifications they need.” 

“An ambitious ZEV mandate is one of the most important measures the UK Government can introduce to rapidly increase market supply, alongside continued investment in charging infrastructure across the country”.   

Sandra Roling, Director of Transport, Climate Group

Climate Group argues more needs to be done to meet business demand for fully electric vehicles and to ensure the UK meets its 2030 commitment to phase-out sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans. 

Alongside manufacturers clearing the backlog of demand, the UK government needs to step up its ambition to help UK businesses make the switch. 

The UK’s charging network needs rapid expansion – a reliable, affordable charging network is needed to support the growing number of businesses wanting to invest in EVs. 

Road transport is responsible for around a fifth of total UK emissions. The switch to zero emission needs to happen faster to meet the UK’s net zero targets, clean up the UK’s air and mitigate climate change, Climate Group warned.  

A strong, ambitious ZEV mandate, a key pillar of the government’s Net Zero strategy and will have a huge impact on carbon emissions, will help supply match demand, and speed up EV adoption.