The subsidy is limited, but that power bus is coming

The net around the delivery van with combustion engine closes. The 2019 climate agreement contains agreements on emission-free zones for freight traffic in thirty to forty Dutch cities. Seventeen municipalities have now decided to introduce it from 2025, while thirteen others intend to. The relatively clean diesel vans in the Euro 5 and 6 emission classes will be postponed until the end of 2026 and 2027 respectively. After that, freight transport within the zones of those municipalities may not contain a gram of CO .2 emit more. Municipalities may only grant an exemption to cars for which no good emission-free alternative is available at that time – removal vans, fairground and circus trucks, perhaps market vehicles.

Entrepreneurs therefore have to look for an electric delivery van within the foreseeable future. The cars are there – that’s not the point. Citroën, Fiat, Iveco, Opel, Maxus, Nissan, Mercedes, Peugeot, Renault and Toyota deliver light and heavier models with fewer and fewer restrictions on use. They drive nice and quiet. Their initially small range grows gradually and they charge fairly quickly on the fast charger. With the Toyota Proace, the battery level of its 75 kWh battery shoots from 31 to 81 percent within half an hour.

The bad news: electric buses are much more expensive than diesels. For example, the diesel version of the Opel Vivaro ‘bare’ costs 18,699 euros excluding VAT; the cheapest electric Vivaro with a 50 kWh battery (specified range of 230 kilometers) costs 31,000 euros. The one with the larger 75 kWh battery, ‘paper’ range 330 kilometers, shoots to almost 40,000 euros. And then the bus still has to be dressed, stickered and paneled.

This is offset by lower energy and maintenance costs plus tax benefits. Electricity is cheap as long as you charge at home, approximately 23 cents per kWh. Electric buses are exempt from road tax until 2025, and 36 percent of the investment can be deducted from the taxable profit through the MIA environmental investment deduction. The Random Depreciation of Environmental Investments (Vamil) allows up to 75 percent of the investment to be depreciated at a freely selectable time. But first the invoice must be paid.

Lower Threshold

Such an investment is no problem for large, wealthy parties such as CoolBlue, PostNL or Deutsche Post DHL, which developed its own electric delivery van. Maybe for small business owners. So far they have not been eager. To lower the threshold, the government launched the subsidy scheme for emission-free commercial vehicles, SEBA this year. There can also be large fleet owners use, up to a maximum of four hundred vehicles per request.

When purchasing electric delivery vans in categories N1 and N2 – light and somewhat heavier – the buyer receives an allowance of 10 percent of the net list price excluding VAT and 10 percent of the sales price without VAT, respectively. Up to a maximum of 5,000 euros subsidy per car, that is. Until 2025, the government has earmarked 185 million for it; 22 million euros is available this year. Unlike the previous subsidy scheme for new, privately purchased electric passenger cars, things are not going well yet. Since 15 March, just over 6 million euros in applications have been submitted.

The sales figures meanwhile show that the scheme is having some effect. In 2020, 414 electric vans were sold in the period January-May, this year 994 over the same period. So a large doubling. According to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, a subsidy has been requested for 1,448 vans until 1 June. You will not see this in the sales figures yet, because the application precedes the registration.

According to a ministry spokesperson, more power buses have already been sold than in the whole of 2020. “With the available budget of 22 million euros for 2021, 5,290 vehicles can be subsidized this year. That would mean that more than three times as many electric delivery vans will be sold in 2021 as in 2020. Based on the pace at which applications are submitted, that seems feasible.”

On the other hand, slightly more than 60,000 vans were sold in 2020. Of these, nearly 5,300 cars will be less than a tenth of a million when they get there.

No trailer

So there is a long way to go. And not everyone can join. As an entrepreneur, you should not drive too many miles. For courier companies, where the cars drive eighty thousand kilometers per year, even a bus with a hefty 75 kWh battery is not an option. Nor for contractors, gardeners and market vendors, because no trailer is allowed behind it.

“We can’t do anything with it,” says owner Jurian Louter of Louter Koeriersdiensten in the North Holland village of Nibbixwoud. “I would love to – diesel is also becoming more expensive – but the range is simply too small. Our cars drive an average of 400 kilometers a day, there is no electric bus that can achieve that.”

What if, from 2025, perhaps thirty cities close their doors to its ten diesel buses? The technical developments are not standing still, so perhaps there will be a socket that will go far enough, Louter hopes. For now, he has his back against the wall. “We’re on hold for a bit.”

Those who do not benefit from subsidies are the market vendors, Alex van Bolhuis knows. He is a salesman at Cornelis Bedrijfsauto’s, a large Iveco and Fiat Professional dealer in the north of the Netherlands. Electric vans are not allowed to pull their heavy trailers. They have diesels for that. “The Iveco Turbo Daily diesel is very popular with market traders, because it can tow 3,500 kilos, and with a technical adjustment 5,000.”

A market car quickly weighs that, so you will not encounter many sockets on the market for the time being. And the action radius remains tedious for many parties. “Market vendors don’t drive much,” says Van Bolhuis, “but the average for company cars is quickly 30 to 35,000 kilometers per year, with peaks of 80,000 for couriers.” Anyone who spends a lot of money on a bus does not want to end up with an empty battery on the way.

A charging break is not possible

How well prepared are small and medium-sized enterprises for the transition? Not all entrepreneurs are equally well informed about electric driving. Is the switch technically and financially feasible? “I don’t have an answer to that,” says Ronald Meinema of installation company Meinema from Leek in Groningen. With its two diesel buses, it does indeed cover 30 to 35,000 kilometers per year.

But whether it is feasible remains to be seen. With the 75 kWh Opel e-Vivaro I am retracing one of Meinema’s busiest working days of last winter. The agenda of a day full of burst pipes leads from Leek to Roden, from Roden to Assen, from Assen to Vries and from Drenthe to Groningen, in total about 150 kilometers.

It’s effortless. After the ride I still have 140 kilometers of range left. But then everything went well. The weather was good, the wind was weak, the bus was empty and I was the only one on board.

It can also go very wrong. In bad weather with low temperatures or strong headwinds, the range drops dramatically. With the 75 kWh version of the Toyota Proace I drove the same route of 230 kilometers once with the wind and once with hard rain and against the wind. The first time the range was 270 kilometers, the second time 100 kilometers less.

That margin is too large if, like Meinema, you serve a large area. For him, a 10,000 euro cheaper 50 kWh bus of the same brand is already a good idea no go. And what if the battery does not fully charge overnight due to a power failure? Then he has to take a charging break during the day. You don’t have much time for that on hectic days. Moreover, fast chargers are scarce in rural areas. You are not going to hang your bus, that moving toolbox, on a charging station five hundred meters from a visiting address. And you don’t want to have to walk ten minutes during a job for a forgotten part.

With that knowledge, will a small entrepreneur spend at least 40,000 euros on an electric bus? What must, must, says Meinema, “but I would have to pass on such amounts to my customers”.

The subsidized delivery vans are a drop in the ocean

leniency arrangement

Thanks to the leniency scheme for Euro 6 diesels, he can continue with his two-year-old, relatively clean buses until the end of 2027. But for owners of Euro 4 cars with customers in zero-emission zones, there will be no escaping it from 2025. They have to, even if they don’t have the means.

How? There are quite a few. An estimated 44,000 delivery vans can be subsidized with 185 million euros. This means that not a fraction of the vehicle fleet has been made more sustainable. Of the 950,000 delivery vans driving in the Netherlands, half fall into the now historic Euro 4 or lower emission class. Even if those hundreds of now become thousands, they will remain drops on the ocean.

They also see this in business organisations. Marco Wiesehahn, policy secretary for mobility and logistics for VNO/NCW and MKB-Nederland: “The support is now insufficient for entrepreneurs. The House of Representatives agrees with us, and we will discuss it with the State Secretary. The first logical question would be whether or not a significant amount should be added. And we would like to see municipalities also put more effort into flanking, supportive policy.”

The subsidy is limited, but that power bus is coming
Source link The subsidy is limited, but that power bus is coming

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