Report highlights growth prospects for Powered Light Vehicles in the UK

A new study from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership identifies the potential for Powered Light Vehicles (PLVs) to play a significant role in providing lower impact mobility for UK citizens in the future, particularly in urban areas.  It concludes that there is a substantial economic opportunity for companies involved and – in broader industrial terms – for ‘UK Plc’ in nurturing this market.
The report – published in executive summary form – is introduced today at an event hosted by the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), attended by business minister Andrew Stephenson MP. PLVs are one of the most promising solutions that could be adopted in support of the Government’s Future of Mobility Urban Strategy, published in March this year,
The report identifies, however, that if the potential of PLVs to be realised, several regulatory barriers need to be addressed along with their closer incorporation into the policy framework.
Powered Light Vehicles (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.
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 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 among 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.
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.”
Tony Campbell, Chief Executive of MCIA said: “The MCIA and LowCVP are kindred spirits in our desire to put PLVs at the top of the transport agenda and this report highlights the advantages of these vehicles for both the users and UK business.”
For more information and to download the summary report, please visit the PLV Hub: