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Technical and operational obstacles to the adoption of electric vans in France and the UK: An operator perspective

Journal article
Authors E. Morganti
Michael Browne
Published in Transport Policy
Volume 63
Issue April
Pages 90-97
ISSN 0967-070X
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Business Administration
Pages 90-97
Language en
Keywords Electric vans, London, Paris, Urban freight transport
Subject categories Economics and Business


Since the mid-1990s European urban freight transport has undergone several major changes with direct impact on vehicle use patterns. These include (i) freight vehicle downsizing and (ii) the dieselisation of van fleets (formally referred to as light commercial vehicles or LCVs). More recently, a new possible trend has started to emerge, mainly related to alternative 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, we 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 (8) 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 to foster 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 detected barriers.

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