The costs of emissions-free, electric vans are now as low as their diesel competitors.
That’s according to a new study by consultancy CE Delft that focuses on the small van segment largely used in cities and which accounts for 40% of total van sales in the EU.
The study takes into account purchase price, taxes, fuel bills and maintenance costs over six years, equivalent to a standard lease contract. The rapid fall in battery prices – they dropped by 24% in 2017 alone – is the main factor in making electric vans reach cost parity.
The electrification of vans is particularly attractive because they are predominantly used by businesses that focus on the total cost of ownership rather than the purchase price. Smaller vans are also mainly used for urban delivery, addressing the air pollution crisis in our cities.
But despite the good economics of electric vans, there are currently few of them on European roads – accounting for less than 1% of all new van registrations, primarily due to the lack of choice. Today just 10 battery electric van models are on the market in the EU, compared to more than 200 diesel models.
Vans are responsible for 12% of the EU’s total road transport emissions. The current 147 g/km CO2 standard for vans in 2020 is dismally unambitious compared to the 95 g/km target for cars. A target of 113 gCO2/km should have been set for 2020 to require the equivalent cost-effective gains in fuel efficiency.
As a result, improvements in van efficiency have been minimal, increasing operational costs for users. The Commission’s recent proposal shows it hasn’t learnt from its past mistakes. It proposes to reduce vans emissions by 15% in 2025 and 30% in 2030 despite its own impact assessment showing that a 40% cut in 2030 is better as vans are used for businesses, running up higher mileage compared to cars.
Due to laxer regulations compared to their direct competitors, trucks, van usage has been rising since the mid-2000s. Since 2006, the number of kilometres driven by vans has increased by 23% in the UK and by 17% in Belgium.
Julia Poliscanova said, “European policymakers, including national politicians, have turned a blind eye to the rising use of vans and its associated pollution. Dirty diesel vans are contributing to transport’s growing CO2 emissions and are making our air poisonous, especially in city centres.
“It’s time to get vans out of the slow lane and fast track clean-electric alternatives. Europe needs ambitious and robust CO2 standards of 25% reduction in 2025 and at least 40-60% in 2030 coupled with an effective sales target for electric vans to drive appropriate supply. The Eurovignette directive should also be revised so that any toll beginning from 3.5-tonnes vehicles also covers the largest vans on the road.”