Van use drives ahead 10 Apr 2014

White van man delivers the goods

The number of vans on Britain’s roads has been rising more than 2.5 times quicker than cars.

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of vans increased by 29% to 3.3 million.

Over the same period the number of cars rose by 11% to 28.7 million.

Every tenth vehicle on the road is now a light commercial vehicle (LCV).

Over the same decade the number of lorries (heavy goods vehicles or HGVs) on British roads fell by 5% to 460,000.

The highest percentage change in van ownership over that period was seen in the North East, followed by the South West and Wales.

This is the full table:

REGION

Number of vans – 2002

Number of vans – 2012

% change 2012 on 2002

North East

77,300

141,000

82.5%

South West

270,100

391,100

44.8%

Wales

124,400

176,000

41.4%

Scotland

174,600

241,500

38.3%

South East

388,700

526,400

35.4%

Yorks & Humber

182,000

246,000

35.2%

East Midlands

220,600

278,000

26%

West Midlands

307,900

382,000

24.1%

East

274,000

330,300

20.6%

London

194,000

203,000

4.7%

North West

282,500

294,500

4.2%

GREAT BRITAIN

2,542,300

3,280,600

29%

(Source: DfT)

The RAC Foundation commissioned a report from the consultancy company AECOM to try and better understand what has been happening with van traffic. It shows that:

  • In Europe only France, Spain and Italy have more vans registered than Britain
  • Van traffic in Britain is predicted to almost double by 2040
  • 95% of vans are diesel powered
  • 20% of vans are either bought or sold each year
  • 3% of vans (112,000) are 20 or more years older
  • Almost one in two (44%) of UK registered vans visit London each year

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“The stereotypical white van man comes in for a lot of bad press but the rapidly rising number of light commercial vehicles on our roads suggests a growing army of hardworking sole traders, delivery men and small businesses on whom the economy depends.

“Van travel and ownership has grown significantly in recent years and the government estimates future growth will also be high. Van traffic is set to almost double by 2040, rising twice as fast as traffic overall. The big question is why.

“In 2013 three-quarters of British adults shopped online and we have the highest rate of internet shopping in the EU. Intuitively you would think this has resulted in a big rise in home deliveries and hence van use but so far no one has crunched the numbers.

“There is also reason to believe hauliers are switching away from larger vehicles because of changing delivery patterns and growing environmental restrictions on HGVs. It could also be that more and more people are running their own businesses and need a van to carry their goods and tools.”

ENDS

Contacts:

RAC Foundation:

Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications

Philip.gomm@racfoundation.org | 020 7747 3445 | 07711 776448 | 020 7389 0601 (ISDN)

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users. The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist.

The RAC Foundation is a registered charity, number 1002705.

For the purpose of this study, a vehicle is defined as an LCV if it falls within the N1 category, as defined under EU Directive (EC) 2007/46/EC, with a gross weight of 3.5 tonnes or less.

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