The UK government recently announced it is committing an additional £4 million (US$4.9 million) to the Plug-In Van grant scheme extending the eligibility to larger electric vehicles. Electric trucks above 3.5 tonnes are now be eligible for grants of up to £20,000 (US$24,300). Specifically, N2 vans (3.5 – 12 tonnes gross weight) and N3 vans (more than 12 tonnes gross weight) are now eligible.
The grant amount is automatically deducted from the price of the vehicle by the dealer when it is purchased, and the dealership also completes all the necessary paperwork. The scheme will be reviewed once 5,000 grants have been processed, or in March 2018, whichever is earlier.
The Plug-In Van grant has been available to small commercial vehicles of up to 3.5 tonnes since 2012, but sales of new electric vans have remained limited.
Electric vans and trucks have significant air quality benefits, as they spend much of their time in towns and city centers and more than 96% of them are diesel-powered. Further, the proportion of vans in the UK transport fleet is increasing: new van sales are up 66% between 2010 and 2015, compared with a 30% increase in cars over the same period.
The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), a joint unit of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Transport, believes extending the scheme will stimulate demand for more electric vans and trucks, and consequently encourage new entrants into the electric van market.