May 10, 2023
The logistics industry is booming thanks to the exponential rise of home deliveries. Electric vehicles (EVs) present an excellent opportunity for logistics companies. Transitioning delivery fleets to EVs can help companies reduce their environmental impact and meet sustainability targets. It can save money on operating costs, given that EVs are considerably cheaper to run than ICE vehicles. They improve the efficiency and reliability of operations since they have fewer moving parts, making them cheaper and easier to maintain. Plus, they are much quieter, which benefits all in urban operations.
The UK government also provides various incentives for logistics companies to transition their fleets to EVs. Grants are available to subsidise the cost of the vehicle and the installation of infrastructure and incentivise converting older vehicles to alternative fuel systems. Tax relief schemes also contribute to savings, and the exemption from congestion and ULEZ charges in London will be a significant saving for London-based services.
Light goods vehicles (LGV) are safety-approved up to a limit of 3.5 tonnes, having a class 7 MOT certificate. However, with the increased weight of the electric drivetrain rather than the lighter ICE engine, which runs on fossil fuels, these LGVs become officially ‘overloaded’ with the smallest payload. From an operational perspective, this is a significant negative, and in reality, it is unlikely that delivery drivers are going out without the full payload as they did before. Imagine that you are a delivery driver. You have 115 drops to do. Your van is the same size as before, but now it’s overloaded, carrying just 50 parcels. All 155 packages do still fit. What would you do? I know what most delivery drivers would do in this scenario.
Vehicles over the 3.5-tonne weight limit should be MOTd as Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs). The HGV sector is already stretched past capacity. Companies are waiting 6-8 weeks for an MOT test slot for HGVs. These unnecessary delays could also have significant economic consequences on companies with EV fleets.
The government is considering whether to increase the weight limit of class 7 to 4.25 tons. However, many garage owners, Barry Babister, MD at CCM and MOT Juice included, seek the full extension up to a 5-ton limit. A petition to support this suggested change is available to sign here.
The objection to increasing the weight limit on class 7 vehicles is that HGV testing is typically more stringent than the LGV MOT test. Heavier vehicles may require stronger brakes, suspension, and chassis components to carry their increased weight safely, and these enhanced features require different testing criteria. However, most class 7 MOT bays in the UK and around Europe are Italian made and can accommodate up to a 5-ton load. At the Garage Equipment Association Conference, a question to the ramp suppliers confirmed that most ramps sold were up to 5 tons.
Although there are many benefits for logistics companies to transition to EV fleets, there are also powerful blockers. Amending the weight limit for class 7 category vehicles is a viable and obvious solution to one of these blockers. What is clear is that the government must find a solution that encourages EV uptake and ensures road safety.
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