Features & Interviews

Five minutes with… Gerry Keaney, Chief Executive, BVRLA

07 December 2022 #Features & Interviews

What does the BVRLA think about government extending the Plug-in Van Grant earlier this year?

The extension to the Plug-in Van Grant is great news for a fleet industry. It was something the BVRLA was actively asking for and we are grateful for the input from members on this issue.

We appreciate the decisive action taken by OZEV to support fleet decarbonisation, in the face of the ongoing semiconductor shortage and conflict in Ukraine, which have contributed to multiple supply chain issues.

The grant is an important lever in making electric vans affordable, but many barriers beyond that are causing the uptake to stall. We have seen that the majority of charging infrastructure decisions have been made with private car users front of mind. While we welcome the levels of investment going into improving the UK’s public charging network, more consideration needs to be given to van users and their distinct needs.

Is EV charging infrastructure adequate in the UK?

That depends on who you ask and what their needs are. The situation is improving all the time, but the pace of progress varies between private and fleet applications, as well as if you are considering cars, vans, or heavier commercial vehicles.

Our annual Road to Zero Report Card considers infrastructure provision as one of its three key strands. This year’s results were published in September and show that, while charging infrastructure for cars is broadly in good shape, there are still widespread gaps that are slowing down the move to electric vans.

The investment in the charging infrastructure is good and it is encouraging to see more plans to grow the network via programmes like the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) fund. We have pushed for fleet needs to be considered as part of the LEVI trials and were pleased to hear OZEV confirm that would be the case.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for our charging infrastructure, so ongoing collaboration between all parties will be the difference in creating an effective network and seeing investment go to waste.

Tell us about your See The Benefit campaign?

Our #SeeTheBenefit campaign sought action on two crucial elements of the company car tax regime. Tax rates were only known up to FY 2024/25, meaning that drivers had no clarity on the rates they’d be paying by the end of a lease agreement. In addition to the lack of foresight, there were concerns that the government would ramp up the rates by too much, too quickly in an attempt to generate additional revenue.

Our data was clear. Fair company car tax rates on electric vehicles are the lead factor in getting more drivers out of older, dirtier vehicles and into the latest, greenest ones. Leaving drivers in the dark or taking away the financial incentive to move by hiking rates would stop that move to zero emission vehicles in its tracks.

The campaign saw us engaging with MPs, the Treasury and the Chancellor directly, with our voice bolstered by input and letters from thousands of BVRLA members and industry professionals.

We welcomed the news in November’s Autumn Statement, which confirmed that rates would only increase by one percent each year up to 2028. The latest announcements mark a key milestone in the UK’s transition to zero emission motoring.

Gerry Keaney, Chief Executive, BVRLA

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