Sixteen of the UK’s largest van fleet operators have pledged to invest a combined £40 million in the next two years on electric vans to improve air quality.
Under the Clean Van Commitment, which is led by charity Global Action Plan in partnership with energy supplier Engie, these fleets alone will put more electric vans on the road that have been purchased by the whole UK industry in the past year (2,400 in total).
They have also committed to take on a further 18,000 electric vans by 2028 if sufficient charging infrastructure and competitively priced electric vans are available.
Fleets who have signed up to the initiative include Engie, Tesco, Anglian Water, Leeds City Council, Network Rail and Yorkshire Ambulance Service.
Bex Bolland, head of air quality at Global Action Plan, said: “Today marks a significant moment for the UK’s van sector.
“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 four million vans to become zero emission, significantly improving the air we all breathe.”
Wilfrid Petrie, CEO, Engie UK & Ireland, added: “Air pollution is an issue that impacts upon everyone and we are proud to have partnered with GAP to develop the Clean Van Commitment.
“In January 2017 Engie committed to 20% of its fleet to be EV by 2020 and zero diesel by 2025.”
The Clean Van Commitment also aims to bring down the price of new electric vans, as well as stimulating the used EV market in four to six years’ time which will help independent van owners, by providing manufacturers with “the closest they will ever get to a guaranteed level of demand they can supply”.
Recent research from the University of Oxford and University of Bath has found that pollution from older diesel vans has significant health damage costing £2.2 billion per annum to NHS and society.
With 75 billion miles driven each year by vans, they contribute 30% of the UK’s road transport NOx emissions, costing three times more per vehicle to the UK’s health than cars.