Fleet News

Electric nibbles away at the dominance of diesel

At 1.5%, share remains tiny, but compare that with 0.3% a few years ago, reports Sarah Tooze

Diesel is still the dominant fuel on the FN50 van fleet but, for the first time, the percentage of full electric vans has risen above one (to 1.5%), while orders are also at their highest level (2.9%, up from 1.3% last year)

The number of vans that 1.5% equates to is tiny –  3,584 out of a total van risk fleet of 399,827 (of which diesel makes up 96%  or 378,925 vehicles and petrol accounts for 2.4 % or 16,705 vehicles)  but compare this with just three years ago when full electric made up only 0.3% of the FN50.  

Average CO2 emissions for vans have continued their downward trend despite the more stringent Worldwide harmonised Light vehicle Test Proced-ure (WLTP), falling from 156.5g/km last year to 154.2g/km this year, with the average CO2 for vans delivered this year standing at 150.8g/km. 

As with company cars (see page 18), independent leasing company Total Motion Vehicle Management, which sits at number 23 in this year’s FN50, leads the way with overall average emissions of 124g/km, thanks to the company being “huge advocates of alternative fuels”, according to its managing director Simon Hill. 

Its van fleet includes not only electric, plug-in and hybrid vehicles but LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and CNG (compressed natural gas) too. 

RCI Financial Services and SG Fleet are seeing the greatest uptake of full electric vans. For RCI Financial Services, they make up 19.4% of its van fleet (430 of 2,216 vehicles) and account for 32.24% of its orders, while for SG Fleet the numbers are 14.8% (590 of 3,984 vehicles) and 32.7%, respectively. 


SG Fleet has been supporting fleets to make the switch to electric through its eStart consultancy service.

This includes understanding why they want to switch, their current vehicle mix and conducting feasibility studies using telematics. 

Commercial director Chris Salmon says: “We look at the sites where the vehicles could be charged, recommend a charging infrastructure partner and then support them with various funding options.

"Initially, there is usually some scepticism and range anxiety, not to mention concerns about vehicle supply.

"But we have always managed to provide a solution to our clients that has satisfied their needs – whether that is to reduce emissions across their fleet, prepare for zero emission zones, reduce costs or enhance their business’s green credentials to satisfy their sustainability objectives.”

Recent data from the Department for Transport (DfT) confirms there has been an upsurge in registration of ultra-low emission vans. 

It reports that 19,341 plug-in light goods vehicles (LGVs) were registered in the first two quarters of this year – 62% higher than the 11,944 during the same period in 2019, despite the Covid-19 lockdown.

This has been matched by a more than doubling of market share. 

In 2019, plug-in vans represented 7% of the overall van market (up to 3.5 tonnes); in the first half of 2020, that had grown to 18%.

Numbers are only set to grow as the Government has put the UK on a path to net zero emissions by 2050, with the sale of new diesel and petrol vans potentially being banned as early as 2030 (at the time of writing the Government had yet to announce the outcome of its consultation on bringing the deadline forward from 2040). 

Some organisations have already committed to fully electrifying their van fleets by 2030. 

Centrica, owner of British Gas, for example, has said it will electrify its 12,000 strong fleet by then.

Earlier this year it placed an order for 1,000 of the new all-electric Vivaro-e van from Vauxhall (Commercialfleet.org, July 7).

British Gas is part of a coalition of 27 companies – the UK Electric Fleets Coalition – which has been calling for the Government to bring forward the ban to 2030. 

However, not all British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) members are convinced that new diesel and petrol car and van sales should be halted at the same time.

Of those that attended its recent ‘Fleets in Charge’ virtual conference, 65% wanted any ban on internal combustion engine vans to be five years later than cars.

FN50 2020 special report

Analysis and insight into the UK's contract hire and leasing industry

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Click here for electric cars and hybrids best practice and procurement insight

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