- Large electric van maximum gross vehicle weight increased
- Rises from 3.5 tonnes to 4.25 tonnes and boosts payload
- Allows drivers on standard licences to drive heavier vehicles
Holders of a standard Category B car licence are able to drive electric vans weighing up to 4.25 tonnes, more than the usual 3.5 tonnes that applies to conventionally powered commercial vehicles.
This is thanks to a specific government derogation procedure intended to improve the appeal of alternatively fuelled light commercial vehicles (LCVs).
Why was the change made?
The change was brought about to account for the extra weight of the battery technology.
With the licencing limit at 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW), the extra heft of this tech ate into the van’s payload, meaning an electric van was unable to carry as much as a standard diesel-powered commercial vehicle. As a result, it would have to potentially make more trips to transport the same amount of goods, reducing its efficiency.
Anyone wanting to drive a standard vehicle with a gross vehicle weight in excess of 3.5 tonnes needs to hold a Category C, or HGV, licence.
Which vehicles does it apply to?
As well as electric vehicles, the rule applies to range extender, plug-in hybrid, hydrogen fuel cell, compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vans.
There is a small catch, though, with the derogation also requiring drivers to undergo five hours of officially approved training before they can legally take the keys to an electric van. It also stipulates that the van must be used to transport goods and it only applies within Great Britain (but not Northern Ireland).
So far, the government has only announced a five-year derogation, so it is not yet a permanent solution. The decision was taken following a two-month consultation, with responses from representatives from a wide range of companies, including the likes of DHL, the Freight Transport Association, John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and local authorities.