In an effort to further stimulate the adoption of electric vans for goods transport, Belgian Federal Minister for Mobility Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) has proposed to exempt e-vans with a maximum authorized mass of more than 3,5 tons of their tachograph obligation, the newspaper De Tijd writes. It means that their driving and rest times would no longer need to be recorded.
The Belgian federal government is trying hard to boost the shift toward electrification in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment. Back in April, a pilot project was started to allow e-vans with a mass of up to 4,25 tons to be driven with a regular car license (B) instead of a truck license (C). This is to compensate for the additional weight of the batteries, which affects the payload.
Tachograph exemption coming?
But this plan has a second stumbling block: vehicles of over 3,5 tons used for commercial transport must be equipped with a tachograph, which records the legally defined driving and rest times of professional transport drivers. This limits the time an e-van of more than 3,5 tons can be used.
Federal Minister for Mobility Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) has proposed exempting e-vans of up to 4,25 tons of this tachograph rule. This would mean an electric LCV could be just as easy to deploy as a regular combustion van of up to 3,5 tons.
Still some restrictions
Or nearly as easy, as there are still some limitations for vehicles over 3,5 tons. Many local roads do not allow heavy commercial vehicles to enter. At the same time, there is still a kilometer tax for commercial vehicles over 3,5 tonnes – although Flanders is exempting e-vans from this too, starting in 2024.
However, the plan to remove the tachograph is not met with universal praise. The trade unions point to the reason why the tachograph is implemented in the first place: to prevent overworking professional drivers and, therefore, to improve road safety.
‘Vanification’ of the transport sector
European and Belgian transport companies have been complaining about the ‘vanification’ of the sector, where goods traditionally transported by truck now get divided into vans, which do not have driving time restrictions and, therefore, can exploit their drivers more by doing longer shifts, especially in the case of self-employed contractors.
The EU’s Mobility Package has introduced measures to reduce this, with a ‘smart tachograph’ coming in 2026. However, this is meant for international transport, which has less of an impact on e-vans, which are mostly used for local transport duties.