Hot on the heels of the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, government has published long-awaited results of the consultation on driving licence flexibility for alternative-fuelled vehicles – and it’s pleasing that the outcome is broadly positive, both for SMMT members, and Britain’s green transition and the provision of road transport in communities and towns across the UK. Government is proposing to only allow the derogation for driving licence flexibility to drive these vehicles on a category B licence for zero emission vehicles (ZEVs), which makes complete sense as we head towards the requirement for all new vans to be zero emission at the tailpipe by 2035.
One of the myths that often surround operating ZEVs is the reduced ability to tow, but the growing range and spec of electric models shows at least equal performance, compared with their internal combustion engine counterparts. It is hard to tackle these myths, however, if there are barriers to green fleet investment that restrict progressive-minded operators from setting the example for others to follow. It is very positive, then, that government’s fresh legislation will enable category B licence holders to operate ZEVs weighing between 3,500kg and 4,250kg, as well as a ZEV and trailer with a combined weight of up to 7,000kg – with the result that more zero emission towing will reach Britain’s roads.
The UK stands to benefit from more than just the decarbonisation of towing, however. Government has proposed to extend licence flexibility to all vehicle types including minibuses, supporting charities and schools with tight budgets and a limited supply of qualified drivers in their adoption of greener transport. In a similar vein, government is hoping that the removal of the five-hour driver training requirement for operators investing in ZEVs will safely improve resource, time and cost contraints.
Manufacturers’ commitments are clear, with huge net zero investments in the UK and some 25 different zero emission van models on the market. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these up and close at the CV Show 2024, which returns to the NEC Birmingham in April with a new and expanded format, with an programme that for the first time includes a conference – focused on electrification and hydrogen, skills and recruitment, and technical updates. As ever, the event is the largest and best exhibition in the UK for businesses to prepare for success amid complex, evolving regulations and technology. The event will also be an excellent opportunity for van manufacturers to engage with operators, to secure ZEV orders and meet their 2024 ambitions.