Europe’s white vans are getting greener

The average van sold in Europe last year was around 2.4% more fuel-efficient to those sold in 2013, according to new data from the European Environment Agency (EEA).

According to the data, released today (13 May), more than 1.4 million new vans were registered in the European Union in 2014, with emissions averaging out at 169.2 grams of CO2 per kilometre – 4g/km less than those sold 12 months earlier.

This also falls well below the 2017 Vans Regulation, which limits carbon emissions from new vans to a fleet average of 175g/km; and puts Europe on track to reach the 2020 target of 147g/km.

Opportunity knocks

In business, millions of operators use vans as back-to-base or short-haul vehicles – a task well-suited to pure-electric vans such as the Nissan NV200 and Renault Kangoo models and plug-in hybrids like the Mitsubishi Outlander 4Work.

Here in the UK, research released last month by the Government’s Go Ultra Low campaign revealed that £2.6bn worth of potential fuel savings are being missed out on by fleet managers who are not opting for an ultra-low emission van (ULEV). ULEVs are also exempt from road tax and the London congestion charge, lowering costs even further.

Compared with the cost of operating a diesel-powered van, nearly half (1.8 million) of the 3.7 million vans on UK roads could tap-in to the typical £1,459 per vehicle annual savings on the cost of fuel, the research states.

Head of the Go Ultra Low campaign Hetal Shah said: “Ultra-low emission commercial vehicles make so much sense for operators large and small, particularly when you consider the massive fuel savings on offer and the opportunity to write-off the cost of the vehicle said.

“Add to the mix lower maintenance fees and tax rates, plus the potential for reduced whole-life running costs, and they really do make a compelling option.”


Today’s EEA report revealed that the  EU market for vans grew by 18% in 2014, with  more than 60% of the vehicles registered in three countries: France (24%), the UK (21%) and Germany (15%). Diesel vehicles make up the vast majority of van sales (97%). Alternative fuel vehicles using the likes of liquid petroleum gas or natural gas represent less than 2% of the fleet, with electric vehicle sales comprising less than 0.5%.

Emissions levels were lowest among new vans sold in Portugal (145.1g/km), Malta (145.7g/km) and Bulgaria (148.6g/km). At the other end of the scale, emissions were approximately 30% higher for the average vans sold in Slovakia (193.3 g/km), the Czech Republic (191.1 g/km) and Germany (190.4 g/km).

The slight increase in the fuel efficiency of vans observed in 2014 is similar to that recently reported by the EEA for new passenger cars sold, which improved by 2.6% between 2013 and 2014. 

Luke Nicholls

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