Since the mid-1990s European urban freight transport has undergone several major changes with a direct impact on vehicle use patterns. These include freight vehicle downsizing and the dieselization of van fleets (light commercial vehicles or LCVs). Recently, a new possible trend has started to emerge, related to alternatively fuelled LCVs for reducing air pollution emissions in urban areas.
Electric LCVs up to 3.5 tons are considered a suitable option for last-mile operations, yet only a few last mile operators are replacing their diesel fleets with electric vans. In order to probe electric LCV acceptance in the freight transport sector.
In 2018 Eleonora Morganti and Michael Browne conducted 15 experiment-oriented interviews with urban freight transport and service operators who tested and adopted electric vans, exploring technical and operational obstacles in daily operations in Paris and London. Additional interviews have been conducted with policymakers, to update the initial survey.
The results show that, in addition to range concerns issues, last-mile operators’ perception and acceptance of electric vans are affected by other concerns, such as queue, payload, and grid anxieties. A number of financial and non-financial incentives for fostering the adoption of electric vans are identified and compared by considering the cities of Paris and London. The research also explored potential policy tools for mitigating the barriers to adoption that had been identified.
The research provides insights into the policy changes and incentives that would be most relevant to increasing the uptake of EVs in the field in commercial vehicles. Successful policy interventions to promote electric vans will require well-designed combinations of incentives, regulatory standards, information, and guidelines for stakeholders involved in the process. An effective policy-intervention strategy must be designed to reduce the key barriers involving manufacturers, energy distribution networks, charging network providers, and real estate actors.