Due to recent speculation about alternatively fuelled vehicles being heavier than their internal combustion engine counterparts, the UK Government has launched a consultation on proposals to increase the weight limit of electric and gas-powered vans that can be driven on a standard category B license.
Currently, drivers with a normal category B license can operate vans weighing up to a maximum gross vehicle weight of 3,500kg, which is what the Government has proposed may increase, potentially taking the gross vehicle weight to 4,250kg for alternatively fuelled vans.
Many different bodies across the sector, including the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and IVECO have encouraged the Government to implement an increase for a number of years, saying upping the weight limit would negate a loss in payload caused by heavier batteries taking up more weight than a normal engine would. It is believed that upping the weight limit would make running electric and gas powered vans far more viable than at present.
The Government consultation also seeks to “correct a regulation anomaly’ in which electric vans are currently exempt from having MOT tests.
“We are promoting the uptake of cleaner and more efficient vans, but cleaner powertrains can increase a vehicle’s weight, potentially reducing the available payload,” said Jesse Norman, parliamentary under secretary of state for roads, local transport and devolution, in the consultation foreword. “This would allow category B licence holders to drive a slightly heavier vehicle, if it is powered by a low emission technology, effectively offsetting the additional weight of the powertrain.”
He added: “The Government is also proposing a similar exemption from operator licensing requirements for alternatively fuelled vans used for own account haulage. This would help operators to avoid becoming subject to the full operator licensing regime if they invest in cleaner but slightly heavier vans.”
A public consultation is now open on the proposed new measures and will last 12 weeks. They will help level the playing field by addressing the payload penalty which currently puts operators of cleaner vans at a commercial disadvantage compared to operators of equivalent conventionally-fuelled vehicles.