Good news for any operators with electric delivery vehicles, ‘alternative fuel’ vans or green fleets. The Department for Transport has this month updated their plans to allow drivers holding a category B (car) licence to operate heavier vans, provided they are fuelled by low-emissions technology.

The move comes after much discussion about the “payload penalty”, which unfairly affects operators moving to alternative fuel sources. As alternative fuel sources typically weigh more than traditional fuel, maximum payloads are affected.

Currently, category B licence holders can drive vehicles with a payload up to 3.5t. There is a worry that switching to green fleets may have a negative impact on operators, as their drivers with B licences would have a smaller payload than previously. Operators must either reduce the payload of their vehicles to stay within the 3.5t limit or pay to upgrade their licences in order to carry essentially the same loads.

If carried into law, the proposal would allow anyone with a category B licence to drive slightly heavier vehicles when those vehicles are powered by alternative fuel sources, including electricity, including those using battery electric vehicles (BEV), range extended vehicles (REV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV); compressed and liquefied natural gas; LPG; or hydrogen.

The proposed plan will allow increased payload capacities (offset by the additional weight of the powertrain) for vehicles powered by a low emission technology. As alternative fuel technologies can weigh considerably more than diesel-powered vans, operators who move towards alternative fuel technologies suffer a loss in payload, which the proposed derogation would help to compensate.

The change has been proposed in a bid to encourage operators to move towards greener fleets (or low emission light commercial vehicles), to reduce emissions, improve air quality, and fulfil obligations under the Climate Change Act and air quality regulations.

As reported here, many operators have spoken in support of the derogation of regulations, and transport minister Jesse Norman said: “We want to make it easier for businesses to opt for cleaner vehicles, and these proposals are designed to do just that.”

This is another step towards the switch to sustainable fleets. Stream Go already has systems in place that can help ease the transition to alternatively fuelled vehicles. For operators with electric vehicles, distance ranges can be added and taken into account at the planning stage, to ensure that vehicles don’t run out of fuel on the road.

Similarly, in the vehicle management screen, capacities and licence requirements are set by the operator, so you are able to adjust payloads and licencing requirements for your vehicles, as new regulations are passed to keep up with the changing landscape of fleets.

To understand more about what the move towards electric vehicles could mean for your logistics and fleet management, request a demo or callback from our team.

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