Sales and leases of new vans soared to near record levels during the first six months of 2021 as the economy started to reopen and the boom in deliveries continued.
Prior to the pandemic, demand was at peak levels with 2019 seeing the highest number of new vans sold on record. A year of uncertainty and lockdowns slowed demand in 2020, but this year the industry has regained momentum as logistic companies and freelance drivers looked to find out more about investing in new vehicles to avoid paying charges in the new “clean air zones” in several cities around the country.
In the first six month of 2021, more than 191,500 new vans were sold, the third highest figure on record, despite continued shortages of semiconductors which continues to impact production volumes.
The growth in van sales and leases is contrasted in a significant decrease in the number of car sales. Whilst car sales did bounce back this year in comparison to 2020, sales were down around 20 per cent compared to the average sales numbers of the last decade.
Car sales generally may have declined, but the growth in electric vehicles continues to pick up pace. In the first half this year nearly 74,000 new electric vehicles (EVs) were registered, a figure six times higher than during the same period in 2019. In June, more than one in every 10 cars sold was electric and EVs had a greater market share than diesel.
Sales of electric vans are also growing fast. Across Europe rising demand for zero emission deliveries in city centres has acted as a catalyst for growth in the number of electric vans now seen on the roads according to figures from data specialists Dataforce. They predict that electric vans will account for 2.3% of light commercial vehicle (LCV) sales in Europe this year, a quadrupling of the figure from just five years ago.
A change from petrol or diesel to electric vans will have a dramatic impact on emissions, with vans on the go all day. A spokesperson for Dataforce explained that with the majority of daytime traffic in cities made up of commercial vehicles of varying sizes, the net impact of a shift to battery-powered LCVs could well be more than that of a passenger car, which is parked and stood stand-still for most of the day.
However, this need for always-on availability has been the main stumbling block for e-vans becoming mainstream as delivery drivers do not want to waste time charging their van every three or four hours. Nonetheless, more and more fleets are turning to electric LCVs like the Ford E-Transit to the Volkswagen e-Transporter, and as battery efficiency improves the rate of change is only going to increase. And with new battery-powered LCVs hitting the market on an almost monthly basis, competition is fierce and the technology is improving at a rapid pace.