Mike Waters' Blog: 5 January 2010 - The year of the van?
05 January 2010
Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at Arval, the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company.
2009 was a year of major change for vehicle manufacturers and for drivers alike. Largely driven by the need to reduce emissions, improve safety and reduce costs new models and technologies left the car market in a state of flux as the pace of development accelerated.
With 2009 behind us, its fair to say that this year doesn't look like being any less dynamic as pressures from the EU and national government's to be greener and safer remain which should continue the trend of innovation. Things to look out for will include uncrashable cars, several electric vehicle trials across the UK, new technologies that park your car for you and models that come with smaller engines but don't compromise performance.
However, while cars and their drivers didn't escape the spotlight last year, vans didn't seem to come under the same level of scrutiny. Although some degree of change did happen, it wasn't to the same extent, and as an example it is a relatively recent development that van manufacturers have have to make public the CO2 performance of their vehicles.
Hugely important to businesses in the UK with 3,722,000 LCV's on the roads in 2008, they therefore have a major impact on road safety and the environment. While there are electric versions on the market with manufacturers such as Modec moving the agenda forward, they remain more polluting than cars so its only right that vans are not ignored.
So could 2010 be the year of the van? The Chancellor's Pre-Budget Report indicated they are certainly on the agenda with the announcement of tax breaks for both companies and drivers using electric versions.
Something that is also expected to make a difference is the Department for Transport's Van Best Practice Programme which launched in the fourth quarter of last year and has the potential to have a real influence. The programme aims to improve the efficiency and safety of Britain's van operators, supporting them in saving money, improving business performance and reducing CO2 emissions, for more info their website is http://vanbestpractice.businesslink.gov.uk
Van purchasing can be much more complicated than it is for cars with a huge choice of sizes, specifications and optional extras such as racking. This means that there can be many variants of one make and model, so it is encouraging that help is finally at hand.
With so many vans on the roads, better environmental and safety performance affects all drivers and it seems only fair that pressure to be greener, more efficient and safer should fall on all road users and not just the easiest targets.