Firms call for more electric van chargers

SCOTLAND’S electric vehicle charging point network must be expanded tenfold to make it viable for companies to switch from diesel vans, two firms have urged.

Scotland currently has just 300 public electric charging points. Picture: Robert Perry
Scotland currently has just 300 public electric charging points. Picture: Robert Perry

West Lothian-based Eagle Couriers and Fife disaster recovery business FFDR want the number of publicly available chargers increased from 300 to 3,000.

The firms said they are being hampered from introducing greener fleets by the lack of charging points and the limited range of electric vans.

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Jerry Stewart, director of Bathgate-based Eagle Couriers, which has 100 vans, said: “There are several charging points cropping up in Edinburgh, but there are not enough elsewhere to guarantee we could carry out business as usual.

“Three hundred charging points is a great start but, when you compare that figure with the number of fuelling stations across Scotland, it does pale by comparison.”

Ronnie Klos, director of Lochgelly-based FFDR, said 3,000 chargers was the “tipping point” to make electric vehicles viable.

Klos, whose firm has a 60-van fleet, said they should be installed at filling stations like LPG pumps.

He said: “If it was possible to get electric vans capable of 100 miles or more on a single charge, we’d be all over them, as it would make a huge difference to our business.

“The reality is there simply isn’t an electric van on the market that is business-ready. Sure, some of them would just about get away with making short city centre journeys, but that’s hopeless if our guys have to get to Aberdeen or Glasgow.”

Haulage industry sources said manufacturers were finding it extremely difficult to increase the range of electric vans. They said current models were aimed at firms with vehicles that travel less than 70 miles a day, such as within cities.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders said the limitation was “well understood”, and fuel-efficient diesels were the best current option for higher-mileage firms.

Freight Transport Association head of vans Mark Cartwright said: “Electric vans are not without their limitations. Initial costs are high, range is limited and payload is greatly reduced compared to their diesel brethren.”

The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency was unable to say how many chargers would be installed in its current programme over the next 18 months because they were dependent on UK government funding.

Its spokeswoman said: “There are about 300 charge points currently available to the public across Scotland, and a further 200 in non- public locations such as council depots, private workplaces or domestic installations.

“Electric vehicle charging points are being installed across the country as part of a phased roll-out scheme, which is targeted for completion in spring 2015.”