ABD Report: The Viability of Alternative-Fuel Vehicles for the Caravan and Motorhome Industry
The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has prepared a brief report looking at the current and future suitability of electric or hybrid vehicles for use as tow cars or motorhomes. The extra weight of an electric or hybrid drivetrain has prompted the government to pursue a policy of allowing holders of a category B (car) licence to drive an alternative-fuel van with a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of up to 4250kg instead of the current 3500kg, without the need for a category ‘C1’ licence, in order to maintain a useful payload (1).
Currently, only drivers who passed their ‘B’ licence test on or before 1st January 1997 have automatic entitlement to drive a vehicle-trailer combination of up to 8500kg. After 1st January 1997 drivers are limited to a vehicle-trailer combination of up to 3500kg with a ‘B’ licence (2).
Report author and motorhome owner Paul Biggs said: “Clearly cars and vans are going to get heavier as a result of electric or hybrid drivetrains. This will make it much more difficult to stay within a GVW of 3500kg for a car-caravan combination or a van-based motorhome. The ABD assumes that ‘B’ licence derogation will automatically apply to alternative-fuel van-based motorhomes. Perhaps this also presents opportunity for the government to consider giving the same ‘B’ licence derogation to owners of alternative-fuel tow cars, or to go further by returning to a pre-1st January 1997 situation for everyone.”
The report (3) also found that a range plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars or SUVs have useful towing capabilities that compare well with current diesel vehicles. However, most hybrid cars aren’t suitable for towing and there is currently only one electric vehicle (EV) that is approved for towing, although the weight of a caravan would severely reduce the range between charges. EV Motorhomes are at an early experimental stage and will require leaps in technology to be viable, but a prototype PHEV motorhome chassis looks promising although it would obviously suffer a weight penalty. The £6 billion per annum caravan and motorhome industry supports 130,000 jobs, so it’s important that electrification doesn’t become the electrocution of an important UK industry.
Notes for Editors:
- Category B driving licence derogation for alternatively fuelled light commercial vehicles:
- Driving licence categories:
- ABD Brief Report: The Viability of Alternative-Fuel Vehicles for the UK Caravan and Motorhome Industry: Viability-of-Alternative-Fuel-Vehicles