- Plan to raise car licence limit from 3.5t to 4.25t
- Would only apply to electric and CNG vans
- May become law in 2017 to encourage green tech
Iveco has revealed it’s been lobbying the government for a ‘payload bonus’ that would make vans powered by alternative fuels more attractive to buyers.
The plan would see the legal gross vehicle weight (GVW) for a standard car driving licence increased from the current 3.5-tonne maximum to 4.25 tonnes – but only for vans and other light commercials that don’t use conventional diesel engines.
See also: Top 10 large 3.5t vans for payload
How would raising the maximum legal GVW help alternative fuels?
It’s a basic rule of thumb that alternative fuel systems – including electric and compressed natural gas (CNG) – weigh more than their conventional equivalents.
This means they increase the basic kerbweight of any vehicle they are fitted to, which in turn eats into the available payload.
This isn’t so much of a problem with smaller vans, such as the Nissan e-NV200 and Renault Kangoo ZE – or even the forthcoming Ford Transit Custom plug-in hybrid, which begins trials in London later in 2017 – because the van maker can increase the gross vehicle weight to compensate.
But when it comes to large vans, which are already homologated to the 3.5t maximum for regular driving licences, it is always the payload that pays the price for these more environmentally friendly technologies.
Why is Iveco so keen on the rule change?
Iveco has both Daily Electric (an all-electric van, obviously) and Daily NP (that’s Natural Power, meaning fuelled by CNG) models on its books, and is keen to make them more viable for potential customers restricted by car driving licences.
As it stands, the Daily NP loses approximately 200kg from its payload rating, while the Daily Electric loses up to 300kg, depending on specification.
If the driving licence for cars is extended to 4.25t for such alternative fuel vans, this will not only compensate for the extra weight of the new technologies but give the vehicles an additional 2-300kg of payload capacity on top.
Which it’s hoped would encourage operators to invest in these greener vans, reducing air (and noise) pollution in urban centres as a result.
How likely is it that the 4.25t payload bonus will happen?
According to Iveco product director Michael Flach, who has been heading the campaign, up until around 18 months ago ‘it was like banging my head against a brick wall.’
However, a recent shift in emphasis at the Department for Transport and the rise of proposed ultra-low emissions zones in city centres – including but not limited to London – means the change is now looking highly likely.
While Brexit has thrown a further spanner in the works by forcing every government department, including the DfT, to refocus key staff onto what happens after we split from the EU, Flach is still confident that the 4.25t payload bonus will come into effect by the end of 2017.
Perhaps even by the mid-point of the year. We’ll keep you posted.