The reduced VED rate will only come into effect from April 2003, at which time vans under 3.5 tonnes in weight that meet Euro-IV emissions standard will qualify for a £105 charge, rather than the standard £160 levy.
At present only electric vans such as the Citroen Berlingo and some dual fuel LPG vans such as the Vauxhall Combo and Astravan meet the Euro-IV standard. Van manufacturers have traditionally been reluctant to publish figures on the environmental credentials of their vans, with fleets finding it difficult to find comparative data on elements like fuel consumption.
This situation will now change, according to Stewart Whyte, managing director of fleet consultancy Fleet Audits.
'We may see a big increase in the availability of type-approval information on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions for vans. And in just a few years, we could therefore have all the mechanisms for a CO2 based benefits tax, as with cars,' he said.
However, John Watts, editor of CAP commercial vehicle monitor, said the promised VED reduction was more of a token gesture by the Government to reinforce its commitment to greener transport.
He added: 'The fact is that no commercial diesel or petrol vehicle is getting anywhere near Euro IV at the moment.'
Robin Dickeson, development manager, commercial vehicle manufacturers for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, agreed with Watts, saying: 'It's good the Government is acting to encourage low pollution vehicles, but it's not like turning on a tap, and there's a lot of work to do for LCV manufacturers to reach Euro IV standards.'