16 of the UKâ€™s largest fleet operators have today (6 September) committed to putting more than 2,400 electric vans on the UKâ€™s roads by 2020, replacing older diesel models.
Launched today, the DfT-backed â€˜Clean Van Commitmentâ€™, led by Global Action Plan in partnership with Engie, will see the organisations invest up to Â£40 million over the next two years in low emission logistics.
Signatories include companies such as Abel & Cole, Anglian Water, Network Rail, Northern Gas, Tesco, United Utilities and Yorkshire Water.
They have been joined in signing the pledge by public bodies including the Environment Agency, Gateshead council, Leeds city council, London Borough of Hackney, London Borough of Waltham Forest and Oxford council.
The commitment has been announced alongside new analysis by researchers from the University of Oxford and Bath suggesting that pollution from older diesel vans has significant health damage costing Â£2.2 billion per annum to the NHS and society.
This is a problem that is likely to increase as vans are the fastest growing vehicle type in the UK, organisers of the campaign say, already contributing around 30% of the UKâ€™s road transport NOx emissions. An estimated 4 million vans are currently on UK roads, with only around 4,000 of these running on electricity.
Government is keen to push opportunities for clean â€˜last-mileâ€™ deliveries and in July launched a consultation seeking to understand the potential for technologies such as electric vans and cargo bikes to contribute towards this aim (see airqualitynews.com story).
Commenting today, the Roads Minister Jesse Norman, said: â€œThe governmentâ€™s Road to Zero strategy outlines its intention to lead the world in the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles â€“ delivering significant environmental, health and economic benefits. The Last Mile Call for Evidence, published in July, will allow us to explore new opportunities for replacing vans with electric cargo bikes, vans and micro vehicles.
â€œThis latest research further highlights the very serious potential impacts of nitrous dioxide pollution, and underlines the importance of the transition to greener transport. That is why the Clean Van Commitment is important, encouraging some of the biggest van fleet operators in the UK to switch to cleaner vehicles.â€
A further target within the Commitment aims to deliver 18,000 zero tailpipe emission vans by 2028, if sufficient charging infrastructure and competitively priced vehicles are available, organisers have said.
Bex Bolland, head of air quality at the behaviour change charity Global Action Plan, said: â€œToday marks a significant moment for the UKâ€™s van sector. For the first time, we know just how quickly van fleet leaders aim to adopt electric vehicles.
â€œTheir 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 4 million vans to become zero emission, significantly improving the air we all breathe.â€