In today’s climate, being seen to be green is often an important image for a company, and environmentally friendly commercial vehicles are a key aspect of this. In addition, benefits of greater fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions help to reduce driving costs for businesses. Now more than ever, there is a wide range of eco friendly vans available in the UK, ranging from electric and hybrid vans to more fuel efficient petrol and diesel vehicles, including those with eco friendly technologies to enable more effective driving.
Electric vans are powered by on-board batteries, and therefore have no exhaust emissions. They are mostly recharged at home, however there are also a number of public charging points located across the UK. These vans are best suited to city driving, for short delivery runs or navigating start-stop traffic, and the new generation of vans have a typical range of 80 – 100 miles on a full charge. Electric vans can often cost significantly more to buy, however there are various tax incentives and recent government grants, such as the Plug-in Vehicle Grant, available to help with the cost. Despite the increased cost of purchase, electric vans are generally cheaper to run, being exempt from road tax and from the London Congestion Charge. Some of the top electric vans currently available in the UK include the Nissan LEAF 2013, BMW i3, Renault Zoe and Kangoo ZE, Kia Soul EV and Volkswagen e-Up! and e-golf. In addition to electric vans, hybrid vans are also available, however these are not as common as their solely electric counterparts. Hybrid vans mostly run on internal combustion engines, however they also have an on-board battery which provides additional assistance where required.
There are now a number of more fuel efficient petrol and diesel vans which come with start-stop technology and weight saving options. Start-stop is a device which automatically shuts off the engine whenever the vehicle is held up in traffic, when the gearbox is placed in neutral. All other functions which ensure comfort and safety remain active while the engine is off, including climate control, radio, sat nav and windscreen wipers. The system will then automatically switch the van engine back on when the driver is ready to move. Start-stop is an effective way to help lower emissions of van engines at the times when they are least efficient, such as when waiting at traffic lights or held up in traffic jams. This technology has been shown both to reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel economy, making vans far more environmentally friendly. Start-stop technology is now available from a range of different manufacturers, although it can be known by different names.
Some of the eco friendly vans currently available, like the Fiat Doblo Cargo, also include specialist software (eco:Drive Professional) which analysis vehicle trip data, such as average fuel consumption, total distance covered and the impact of load on vehicle efficiency, and suggests ways to make driving more economical and sustainable.