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Van use in Europe and their environmental impact

Vans responsible for 9% of GHG transport emissions EU

Big potential for full-electric vans

In the EU there are around 27 million Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs), more commonly known as ‘vans’, one-tenth of the number of passenger cars. They are currently responsible for roughly 9% of the carbon emissions of EU transport. Their share in air-pollutant emissions is even higher, as nearly all vans are diesel vehicles and often operate in urban areas.

Compared with Heavy Duty Vehicles (trucks), national regulations for vans are less strict in most Member States. Both the CO2 and air-pollutant standards in force for vans have yet to realize their full potential. The gap between test-cycle and real-world CO2 emissions of vans has increased over the past years to around 25 to 30% (which is less than the 42% for passenger cars in 2015). Real-world NOx emissions have remained almost constant since introduction of the Euro2 emission standards in 1996.

Full-electric vans

Diesel vans are a good candidate for replacement by full-electric vans. A range of 250 km, and in many instances 150 km, is sufficient to serve the mobility needs of most van users. Although small-class electric vans are not currently cost-competitive with the diesel alternative, they should reach parity around the year 2020. For medium-size and particularly larger vans, the ‘tipping point’ will not occur before the year 2030.

This report builds on an extensive research project on vans carried out in the Netherlands: Gebruikers en inzet van bestelauto's in Nederland


Matthijs Otten
Anco Hoen
Michiel van Bokhorst
Lisanne van Wijngaarden

Delft, June 2017

Van use in Europe and their environmental impact

More information: Anco Hoen

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