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| 2 minutes read

The Case for Van and Truck Electrification

In the first half of 2023, about 1 in every 4 new cars sold was either a battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric EV.  That's not bad and well ahead of the UK government's ZEV Mandate target of 22% for 2024 rising to 80% by 2030.  As of the end of 2022, growth in new EV sales had driven their percentage of our national car parc to over 3% and we should expect that figure to grow beyond 20% by 2030.

But what of our nation's vans and trucks?  The charge below indicates that, as of last December, the penetration of EVs within the van parc was only about 1%, and within the truck park was less than 1/4 of 1%.

The adoption of electric vans and trucks is arguably inhibited by a number of factors, including supply scarcity, heavier load and range requirements, under-development of public charging infrastructure and others.  Many fleet operators assert that the use case for vans and trucks is fundamentally different from that of privately operated cars, and therefore, their adoption rates are not comparable.

While all of those arguments may have merit, there is another way to think about the urgency of van and truck electrification.  The table below indicates that:

  • While cars represent over 80% of the nation's vehicle parc, they drive only 74% of the miles and emit only 52% of total emissions from road transport.  
  • In contrast, vans and trucks represent only 12% of the parc, but drive 24% of the miles and emit 35% of total emissions from road transport.

In essence, because the nation's 4.6 million vans produce 4% of the nation's total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, converting as few as 100 vans from diesel to electric power reduces the UK's total GHG emissions by 0.09%.  

It's fair to say that converting vans and trucks to electric power is substantially more difficult than cars.  However, on a pro-rata basis, the impact of each incremental van and truck conversion is far more impactful than that of a car.  

From an environmental standpoint, while public policy has enhanced the uptake of cars, there still seems to be some way to go in terms of widespread adoption of EV technology by those commercial fleets operating over 5 million vans and trucks in the UK.


climate change, active transport, new mobility, sustainability, urban transport, cities & places