‘White van man’ may vanish as most choose electric over fuel

Seven in 10 van fleet drivers would prefer the electric version of their favoured van over the petrol or diesel alternative, a new study has found. The data shows there significant appetite for electric vans, with just 15 percent of van drivers preferring petrol or diesel-powered models.

Demand for electric vans is on the rise with January 2023 seeing a significant increase in demand for them, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

New registrations of battery electric vehicle vans rose to 993 units last month, compared to 647 units in January 2022.

This represents a staggering 53.5 percent increase and shows how the popularity of electric vans is slowly growing.

According to the SMMT, registrations for BEV vans grew by 31.2 percent throughout 2022, with its UK market outlook forecasting a 60.7 percent rise in 2023.

Nicola Richmond, head of Churchill Expert Flexible Fleet Partnerships, commented on the data, saying drivers were slowly, but surely, embracing electric vehicles.

“Internal combustion engine (ICE) vans continue to make up the majority of fleets, but attitudes towards electric vans are rapidly changing. 

“New BEV van registrations are showing strong growth, as supply chain issues start to improve and the choice of electric vans coming to market improves. 

“With the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles fast approaching, it is encouraging to see a growing appetite for electric amongst van fleet drivers. 

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“Electrification is not an overnight process but the industry moving in the right direction.”

Churchill Expert’s research saw van fleet drivers vote for the Ford Transit (33 percent of votes) as their favourite model.

This was followed closely by its variations – the Ford Transit Custom (27 percent) and Ford Transit Connect (20 percent). 

The Citroen Berlingo (17 percent), Fiat Ducato (17 percent), and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (16 percent) were voted as the fourth, fifth, and sixth most popular models. 

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Electric versions of the most popular vans are available, including the Ford e-transit, Citroen e-Berlingo and the Mercedes-Benz e-Vito. 

The findings for the most popular vans reflect similar trends from SMMT’s data on bestselling vans, showing the Ford Transit Custom and Ford Transit as the two most sold vans in 2022.

Paul Kirby, Commercial Director at EV Café, added: “The research is very encouraging concerning electric vans. 

“The benefits to the local air quality, safer driving and increased efficiency will be tangible to any business adopting these vehicles. 

“That said, it is important not to underestimate the help, support and guidance needed to make this transition effectively.”

In addition to the move to electrification, drivers are moving away from the stereotypical “white van man” moniker and choosing other colours.

A recent study from Toolstation found that 52 percent of tradespeople own a vehicle in a colour other than white, while just under a third drive a white van.

Around 14 percent opted for a silver van, while 11 percent chose to transport their supplies and tools in a grey vehicle.

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