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Compact light-weight vehicle growth predicted

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New compact, lightweight electric or low-emission vehicles have the potential to provide mobility solutions for people living in towns and cities, a new study suggests.

The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) has identified in a new report the role so-called Powered Light Vehicles (PLVs) could play in the future.

PLVs is the collective term for a range of two, three and four-wheeled vehicles for either passenger or cargo use.

Their compact size and light weight maximises the use of available road space and, as they are predominantly powered by zero and low-emission powertrains, offers an efficient, clean and practical form of personal and commercial mobility, says the LowCVP.

Its report identifies, however, that if the potential of PLVs is to be realised, several regulatory barriers need to be addressed along with their closer incorporation into the policy framework.

LowCVP’s managing director Andy Eastlake said: “Powered Light Vehicles have received too little attention to date. I hope this summary report will stimulate policy makers and other involved stakeholders to establish a clearer focus on what PLVs can do to help us meet the objectives defined in various government strategies as well as sharpen focus on the industrial opportunity they represent.”

The Powered Light Vehicle Consortium (PLVC) was formed by the LowCVP to assess the potential for the larger three and four-wheeled ‘L-Category’ vehicles.

Academics from seven UK universities contributed to the report, published in summary form today with additional resources available on a ‘PLV Hub’ hosted on the LowCVP website.

The report highlights how the use of PLVs is widespread in a number of large markets around the world. In 2018, there were 50,342 electric-powered L-Category vehicles registered in the EU, representing 3.8% of total L-Category registrations. However, by the end of 2018, there were only 610 ultra-low emission quadricycles and 412 plug-in grant eligible motorcycles and mopeds registered in the UK.

Globally, there is likely to be growth in demand for this category of vehicle as the demand for mobility and goods in space-constrained urban environments increases and – particularly in developed markets – as a result of environmental drivers.

Key recommendations of the report include:

  • Raise awareness amongst key stakeholders - fleet buyers, consumers & policy makers - of the environmental and societal benefits, economic potential offered by PLVs.
  • Undertake whole life-cycle assessment of PLVs so that consumers and legislators have quantitative data about the impact of replacing M or N-category cars & vans with PLVs.
  • Make representations at EU level to include PLVs in fleet averages, to encourage the manufacture and purchase of these vehicles in lieu of, or as a replacement for, conventional cars.
  • Implement technical R&D projects needed to optimise innovative new vehicle systems/components for this weight class of vehicle (existing car supply chain components are often too heavy).
  • Conduct end-user research to build on the insights from early adopters and better understand their needs/desires – e.g. vehicle specifications and retail price targets (including TCO considerations) required to achieve mass adoption.
  • Improve regulatory delineation between open “sit-on” L-Category vehicles and enclosed “sit-in” L-Category PLVs.
  • Research the optimal regulatory structure to identify the best balance of safety systems and requirements within the sector.
  • DfT and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) to consult stakeholders about creating a National Small Series Type Approval (NSSTA) for PLVs.
  • Create a clear consumer identity for PLVs and establish clear, specific legal framework.

For more information and to download the summary report, visit the PLV Hub: www.lowcvp.org.uk/plv

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