Vanzone Roundup, Whats New in June? - Vanzone
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Vanzone Roundup, Whats New in June?

What’s Happening in the Van World Right Now? – June 2024

Every month, Van Expert Tim Cattlin takes a look at what’s been happening in the van industry – be it new products, industry news, legislation changes – even the weird and wonderful. It’s all here…

The period after the CV Show is always a little quiet for product news as, understandably manufacturers like to use the event to launch new vans or make announcements regarding future plans. But, there have been some developments that have made May pretty interesting, to say the least…

Ford Transit E-Custom

Mid-May I was lucky enough to be invited to Frankfurt to see and drive the all-new Ford Transit E-Custom at a media event hosted by Ford Pro. Ford has been a little slow in getting an electric medium-sized van to market, the likes of Vauxhall having been relatively untroubled up until now with the excellent Vivaro Electric. But, when Ford takes its time, you just know the result is going to be good. The standard van is offered with a choice of a 135PS or 217PS motor and has a very good (but not quite class-leading) official range of 209 miles between charges. Even taking a hefty reduction for ‘real world’ use, that should be good for at least a day’s work for the vast majority of operators.

On the road, the van was a dream to drive, smooth, and almost silent and it handled well on the mixed test route. E-Transit Custom should be a big seller for Ford, a company which will be pinning its hopes on the van to improve its current fairly poor electric van market share (oh, and if you like your vans bright, brash and fast, take a look at the MS-RT version, with its unique 285PS motor and outlandish colours – a real, bonkers head turner if there ever was one).

Electric van registrations – a cause for concern?

Because of something called the ZEV Mandate, 10% of all manufacturer’s registrations in 2024 must be electric if they are to avoid a £9000 fine per vehicle that falls short. There are a couple of ways this can be mitigated in the short term but, ultimately, the requirement is there.

There’s quite a lot of work to do. In April this year, electric vans formed just 3.6% of new van registrations, the month seeing a 42.4% drop in the numbers compared to the same month last year. At the time of writing, Maxus, Peugeot and Nissan are the only companies achieving over the magic 10% figure year-to-date and some of the biggest names such as Ford and Mercedes-Benz are the ones that have the biggest task ahead. But, looking ahead there are some excellent new products hitting the market, a revised line-up from the Stellantis group (Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat), the new Ford Transit Custom E-Transit, and the much improved Mercedes-Benz eSprinter. There is almost certainly a pent-up demand for some of these which, whilst at this point of the year might be too late to reverse fortunes, there’s little doubt that electric van registrations should soon show a healthy increase.

Ford e-Transit Electric Custom Van

Large electric van legislation update

Those considering a large electric van will almost certainly be aware of the government’s dispensation allowing drivers normally restricted to a van with a GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) of 3500kgs to drive an electric van weighing up to 4250kgs. This gives the van a decent payload despite the weight of the battery pack. Currently, a driver needs to undertake five hours of training but, six months ago the government announced that this would be scrapped. The revised legislation still hasn’t been passed and with an election imminent it could be much later in the year before it reaches parliament.

The dispensation as a whole had good intentions but, the devil is still in the detail. Goods vehicle testing, tachographs, towing restrictions and even in some cases a restriction in the distance the van can travel from base are all factors that might cause potential buyers to think again. If these restrictions can be ironed out, there’s an excellent chance that the large electric van market will take off, something that manufacturers are desperate for if they are to achieve the demands of the ZEV Mandate.

Isuzu D-Max

Personal tax on pickups

You might remember the huge U-turn a few months ago when the government, having announced that double cab pickups would be treated as cars for benefit-in-kind and VAT taxation purposes reversed its decision just 7 days later but with an ominous hint that the subject was still under consideration. Auction company Shoreham Vehicle Auctions has suggested that, rather than wait to see what is eventually announced the van industry should engage with HMRC, perhaps making suggestions that could be considered. SVA has put forward the idea that a ‘luxury tax’ is placed on vehicles with a list price of over £35,000 (classing them as recreational rather than business use vehicles) therefore protecting the buyers of more basic specification trucks who are more likely to use them for commercial purposes.

This engagement could be a clever move – the industry helping HMRC to understand the customer and working together to ensure that tax legislation, whilst unwelcome, is targeted in the best possible way.

Ford’s home charging package

Ford has launched a new all-in-one home charging system for electric vans, aimed at the small and medium-sized business. The package includes installation of a charger, a five-year warranty and management software. Charging can be scheduled to coincide with the cheapest off-peak tariffs, and the charger can be integrated with Ford Pro Telematics allowing for simplified reimbursement to drivers charging at home.

The package is due to be launched in the UK this summer.

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