August 30, 2018
Electric vans or alternatively fuelled commercial vehicles (AFCVs) weighing up to 4.25-tonnes can now be driven by drivers with a standard category B UK driving licence, up from the 3.5-tonne limit for normal vans.
It’s not just electric vans where the change has occurred, the UK government has given the go ahead that vehicles powered by electricity, natural gas, biogas or hydrogen up to the weight of 4.25-tonnes for the purpose of transporting goods can be driven by drivers with a standard UK category B driving licence. Previously motorists would have been required to obtain a category C driving licence (a HGV licence) if they wanted to drive a van in excess of 3.5-tonnes in weight.
This 4.25-tonne limit is up from the 3.5-tonne limit for normal vans, on the condition that the driver of the vehicle has received at least five hours of training from a registered instructor in operating a vehicle of such. The new rule is designed to encourage the uptake of alternative fuel vans in the UK by making it easier for manufacturers to sell them, whilst also removing the hassle out of applying for more complex licences for heavier vehicles.
The main reason behind the change has been as a result of industry experts lobbying for the change to weight allowance to compensate for the loss in payload of 3.5-tonne vans caused by the additional weight of battery packs in electric vans. Keeping the weight down to the usual 3.5-tonne level means that payload usually suffers as a result and hence less goods can be transported as a result.
There are some conditions, as eluded to previously, Category B licence holders are not automatically allowed to drive the vans in question. Before they drive the van of a heavier alternative fuel van, they must complete at least five hours of training with a registered instructor at the helm of such a van. The rules also state that the van has to be driven for the purpose of transporting goods and only within the territory of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland). You are also not allowed to tow a trailer.
There is yet to be any information of what the training will consist of, however the Department for Transport (DfT) have revealed that the five hours training will be administered by the National Register of LGV Instructors (NRLI) or the National Vocational Driving Instructors Register (NVDI), both institutions represent registered HGV driving instructors.
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