27 February 2018

Small electric vans cost the same as ‘dirty’ diesel ones but are in short supply

Small electric vans have reached cost parity with their diesel equivalents meaning that at least 800,000 models have the potential to be driven across Europe, but businesses are failing to add zero emission models to their fleets due to a lack of appropriate supply.

That’s the conclusion of a new report by CE Delft for lobby group Transport & Environment that looked at the current market as well as emission technologies and their costs in the light commercial vehicles sector.

The rapid decrease in battery costs - they dropped by 24% in 2017 alone - was the main factor in the cost of emission-free, electric vans now being as low as their diesel competitors, according to the report, ‘Van Use in Europe and their Environmental Impact’. The study took into account purchase price, taxes, fuel bills and maintenance costs over six years, equivalent to a standard lease contract.

But despite the good economics of electric vans, there were currently few of them in use with demand most likely among fleets requiring vans for urban deliveries. That, said the report, was primarily due to a lack of choice with the analysis suggesting that there were only 10 battery electric van models on the market in the European Union, compared to more than 200 diesel models.

Small vans are typically driven in towns and cities and account for 40% of total van sales in the European Union. But despite the good economics of electric vans, there were currently few of them on European roads - accounting for less than 1% of all new van registrations, according to the report.

Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicles manager at Transport & Environment, said: “At least 800,000 small electric vans have the potential to be driven across Europe today at no extra cost of ownership compared to polluting diesel vans. Demand is not the issue here.

“It’s illustrative that German delivery giant DHL had to start manufacturing its own electric StreetScooter to make up for the lack of proper supply from traditional van makers. If the market is not delivering, then for the sake of clean air and climate change, policymakers should require manufacturers to do so via regulation.

“‘Dirty’ diesel vans are contributing to transport’s growing CO2 emissions and are making our air poisonous, especially in city centres. It’s time to get vans out of the slow lane and fast track clean-electric alternatives.”

The report is available here.