The Department for Transport is pushing ahead with plans that will enable category B (car) licence holders to drive slightly heavier low-emission vans.
As announced late last autumn, the DfT is looking to raise the weight threshold for electric LCVs from 3.5 tonnes to 4.25 tonnes. The move would cover battery-electric, range-extended electric, plug-in hybrid, hydrogen fuel cell and natural gas powered vehicles, which would be classed under Category N1, even if their heavier drivetrains pushed them over the 3.5-tonne gross vehicle weight.
This would remove administrative burdens for operators and make them more competitive to run.
Following a consultation that ran from July to October 2017, the DfT has said that it’s decided to seek a derogation from the European Commission to allow category B (car) licence holders to drive a slightly heavier commercial vehicle, if it is powered by a low emission technology.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said the licensing change would encourage more firms to consider the move to alternatively fuelled vehicles.
Environment policy manager, Becki Kite commented: “The heavier weights of these vehicles mean they have often been inaccessible for van operators who do not have an operator licence or the appropriately trained drivers. For firms with the appropriate operator licence, the additional regulation still meant extra cost in implementing appropriate compliance policies and recruiting additional drivers. Now they will be able to absorb these vehicles easily into their current working practices.”