Half of vans travel less than 15 miles from base


Data released by the Department of Transport (DfT) revealed that vans classed as ULEVs – typically battery electric (BEV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) – were more likely to be used locally compared with diesel or petrol vans.

The provisional findings of the 2019-20 survey showed that half of all vans (50%) stayed local, within 15 miles of their base, on a typical day.

On a typical day, 75% of ULEVs stayed within 15 miles of their base, compared with 50% of non-ULEVs. Only 1% of ULEVs travelled more than 50 miles away from their base on a typical day.

The scope for employing hybrid or fully electric vans appears to increase when the journey patterns of vans are revealed.

Less than 1% of vans are ULEV

Just 0.3% of all vans on Britain’s roads – some 12,300 out of 4.1 million vehicles – is considered an ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV), according to the data.

Most vans (96%) are powered by diesel.

The findings are part of wider research commissioned into the van sector for the first time since 2008 and 2009. Over the past 25 years, van travel as a proportion of all motor vehicle miles has increased from 10% to 16%, while the number of vans on Britain’s roads has grown by 93% over the same period.

The group most likely to go further were vans used for ‘delivery or collection of goods’, with 61% of these travelling regionally or further on a typical day.

Average annual mileage per van in the UK has remained broadly stable, at around 13,000 miles per year.

Reasons for high number of diesel vans

Reasons for not buying an electric van varied. Almost half (49%) cited the price, with the other most common reasons being vehicle suitability (43%), availability of charging points (38%) and the cost/availability of buying second-hand (33%).

In considering factors that would influence their next van purchase, environmental concerns were ranked only 7th and 10th in importance.

A third of vans are over 10 years old

Meanwhile, the 2019-20 van survey found that just over a quarter (27%) of vans were three years old or less, two-in-five (40%) were between three and 10 years old, and a third (33%) exceeded 10 years.

The DfT statistics were compiled from responses to a questionnaire on more than 17,600 vans driven by private and business operators.

More than half of vans (54%) driven by private owners were more than 10 years old, compared with 17% by business owners.

The latest study saw the introduction of a new category – ‘recreational/leisure and holidays’, which made up 3% of all van mileage in 2019-20.

A final report of the DfT’s findings will appear in the coming months.

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