In a time when small businesses operating in urban areas are facing uncertainty about their future amid the imminent introduction of clean air zones and Ultra Low Emission Zones, we wonder whether vans could provide a solution to the problem for many transport orientated operators.
We are yet to see any major cost-effective alternatives to petrol commercial vehicles for operators, many vehicle manufacturers are struggling to make large HGV commercial vehicles that comply with the new Low Emission Zones affordable for businesses. However, vans are becoming increasingly eco-efficient every year with some of the latest models able to complete up to 200 miles on one single battery life. While evidentially losing a large amount of payload by operating a van fleet, it is worth considering whether some operators could switch to the use of battery powered vans for their transport needs.
In an ideal situation we would already have a range of alternative fuel solutions rather than petrol available on the market, ensuring they are affordable for businesses and make the transition as simple as possible. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Businesses are all realising the cost involved with upgrading fleets to be clean air zone compliant, as well as this there are very few suitable alternative fuel HGV’s available to companies as manufacturers try to increase the efficiency of these vehicles.
All of these factors could contribute to some companies switching to a partially van fleet. Vans have made progress into the electric vehicle market a lot quicker than HGV’s, this year major manufacturers are introducing electric versions of their most popular models including an electric Mercedes Sprinter van and Volkswagen Crafter. This would enable companies to continue operating in the new clean air zones in some capacity, without incurring the extra costs of clean air zone charges on a daily basis.
The potential rise of van fleets operators may coincide with a rise in the number of people completing van smart training for their drivers who are normally used to driving HGV’s. Van smart training would help these drivers adjust to driving a van for commercial purposes rather than a HGV, teaching them about some of the main hazards when operating and how to effectively plan their journeys which could be key with a limited mileage electric battery.