BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 11 Sept '18

16 of the UK’s largest van fleet operators are set to go electric in a bid to clean up emissions

New analysis of research shows that pollution from older diesel vans has significant health damage – costing £2.2bn per annum to the NHS and society. The problem is set to increase: vans are the fastest-growing vehicle type in the UK.

With 75bn miles driven each year in vans, the vehicles contribute a staggering 30% of the UK’s road transport NOx emissions, costing three times more per vehicle to the UK’s health than cars.

Supermarket vans to ambulances

16 of the UK’s largest fleet operators are responding to this issue by signing the Clean Van Commitment and investing an initial £40m over the next two years to drive an increase in the use of electric vans.

The DfT-backed Clean Van Commitment, led by Global Action Plan in partnership with Engie, has signed up 16 businesses that represent some of the largest van fleets operators. They include Engie, Tesco, Anglian Water, Leeds City Council, Network Rail and Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

The announcement came ahead of the UK hosting the world’s first Zero Emission Vehicle Summit (11-12 September), where nations from around the world will come together to agree to support the development of and acceleration in uptake of green vehicles.

£55m in lifetime savings

The commitment to source 2,400 electric vans provides manufacturers with the closest they will ever get to a guaranteed level of demand they can supply, kick-starting the transition to fully electrify Britain’s van fleet.

Each of Britain’s 4m vans – only 4,400 of which are electric – is driven over 20,000km on average a year, compared with the 12,800km driven per car. As a result the UK’s vans are making a significant contribution to the UK’s air pollution challenge.

University of Oxford and University of Bath have revealed that the total health cost to the UK from vans is £2.2bn each year. Their research also shows that the cost of the damage to our health caused by vans is over three times the impact of a car, at a staggering £24,555 per annum in areas such as inner London.

The first batch of vehicles will deliver up to £55m in lifetime savings from health costs in an area such as inner London.

‘This latest research further highlights the very serious potential impacts of nitrous oxide pollution, and underlines the importance of the transition to greener transport. That is why the Clean Van Commitment is important, encouraging some of the biggest van fleet operators in the UK to switch to cleaner vehicles.’

JESSE NORMAN MP
Roads minister

A message to government

The Clean Van Commitment is a collective response from van operators who want to send a clear signal – to government, manufacturers and the National Grid – that they’re committed to delivering zero tailpipe emissions.

The Commitment includes two targets. The first target is to switch 2,400 vehicles in their fleet by 2020. The longer term commitment is to deliver zero tailpipe emissions from 18,000 vans by 2028 – if sufficient charging infrastructure and competitively priced electric vans are available.

As well as helping to bring down the price of new electric vans, the goal is to stimulate the secondhand EV market in four to six years’ time. This will help the 2 million independent van owners who want to protect the communities they serve from air pollution.

‘For the first time, we know just how quickly van fleet leaders aim to adopt electric vehicles. Their collective purchasing commitments show manufacturers that demand is thriving, and will help energy sector, local authority and central government planning. These 16 fleets will pave the way for the national fleet of 4m vans to become zero emission, significantly improving the air we all breathe.’

BEX BOLLAND
Head of air quality, Global Action Plan

To help more van fleets make the switch, the fleet operators recommend more charging points, tax changes that support electric vans, a greater choice of electric van models and permissions to add charging infrastructure to their depots.