0.01% of Britain’s vans are ultra-low emission – FoI figures

Despite the number of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) on Britain's roads continuing to increase year-on-year, 'green' vans represent just 0.01% of light goods vehicles on the road, according to new analysis from insurance provider Direct Line for Business.

A Freedom of Information request issued to the DVLA by Direct Line for Business revealed that, of the 3.4 million licensed light goods vehicles registered in the UK by September 2015, 4,534 were ULEVs with CO2 emissions below 75g/km.

Head of Direct Line for Business Nick Breton said: “With over three million light goods vehicles on our roads, there is a significant opportunity to reduce emissions if we go green.

“We need to investigate what is stopping businesses purchasing ‘green’ vans, which can be cheaper to run. It could be that businesses don’t yet feel there is a sufficient infrastructure in place to recharge, or that they take too long to power up, especially if vehicles need to make long journeys across the country. Falling petrol prices could also be an additional barrier to these greener alternatives.”

‘Green van capital’

Of the country’s local authorities, 121 have fewer than 10 licensed ULEVs registered; 22 only have one green vehicle registered; and three local authorities – Larne, Limavady and the Shetland Islands – have no registered ULEVs.

Hampshire is referred to as ‘the green van capital of the UK’ by Direct Line, with 291 licensed ULEVs – 57% more than the second ranked local authority, Birmingham, which has 185 ULEVs. Peterborough is ranked third in Direct Line’s table of local authorities, having seen an increase in registered ULEVs of 3775% between 2014 and 2015.

The Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles offers grants for up to 20% off the purchase price of an electric ‘plug-in’ van, up to a maximum of £8,000, and 35% off the cost of a car, up to a maximum of £5,000.

As part of an announcement to extend the plug-in car grant by at least two years, the Government confirmed that the subsidies available for hybrid vehicles will fall from £5,000 to £2,500 after 1 March 2016, leading to a surge in demand for hybrids.

According to recent figures from the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), plug-in hybrids enjoyed rapid growth last year, with sales more than doubling compared with 2014, while pure electric vehicles saw an uplift of around 50%.

Cleaner buses

One notable area of growth in the UK’s plug-in hybrid vehicles market has been green buses. Separate figures from the SMMT last month revealed that more than half of all new buses and coaches registered in the UK in 2015 met the latest Euro-VI emissions standard, marking a threefold increase compared with 2014.

According to the SMMT, just 10 Euro-VI compliant models were registered in 2013, rising to 526 in 2014, and 2,143 – equating to 53.5% of all new buses and coaches – last year. SMMT said this surge in demand comes as the regulatory period of grace which has allowed operators to choose older technologies for their fleets is due to end.

These findings are supported by another new report released last week by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), which describes how innovation and supportive policy over the past decade and more ‘has transformed the bus sector from being a part of the problem to being an important part of the solution to poor urban air quality’.

LowCVP managing director Andy Eastlake said: “While an increasingly wide range of transport options now exist, there’s no doubt that an effective bus operation can deliver one of the best solutions to the mobility challenges of air quality, climate change, congestion, convenience and, of course, cost.”

Greening your fleet at edie Live 2016

Whether from logistics and operational vehicles or company cars, fleet emissions can contribute significantly to an organisation’s carbon footprint. From driver management to electric vehicles, the edie Live 2016 exhibition at the NEC Birmingham in May will address the approaches and options available to reduce impact, cut carbon and green your fleet.

Find out more about edie Live 2016 and register to attend for free here.

Luke Nicholls

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie