Almost 1 in 10 vans are used for leisure10 Sep 2020

Biggest proportion typically carry equipment and tools

Almost one in ten (9%) of the four million vans in Great Britain are typically used for recreational/leisure and holiday purposes, a survey from the Department for Transport suggests.

That compares with 16% used for deliveries and collections and 41% carry equipment, tools or materials.

In 2019 vans covered 55.5 billion miles, up 106% over 25 years.

Half of all vans tended to do only local mileage, typically staying within 15 miles of ‘home’.

However, 1% of vans travelled internationally.

According to the survey there were “more business owned vans (58%) than those owned privately (42%). Business vans are those kept by a sole trader, partnership, or company.”

When it came to the number of stops vans those with a delivery/collection function averaged “16 stops per day, double that of any other type of usage.”

At the end of 2019 there were 10,400 electric vans on the road in Britain. This was out of a total of 4.1 million, up 93% in a quarter of a century.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“Three years ago our research showed that the boom in online shopping was not the sole driver of van traffic. This survey seems to reinforce that.

“This study shows that the van is a cornerstone of our economy, not least where they are used by the tradespeople we all rely on to keep homes and businesses up and running.

“The big question is what a similar survey in 12 months-time will reveal. If Covid-19 remains with us that means even more staycations and the leisure and camper van market is set to grow further. So too will the demand for delivery vans, even if there are fewer of them on the roads now than some might think.

“It is interesting that half of all vans typically venture no more than 15 miles from base suggesting they should be good candidates for electrification with drivers using local knowledge to decide where and when they can best be recharged.”

In 2017, the RAC Foundation published a report by Professor Alan Braithwaite which concluded that the rise in vans over recent years could not be attributed solely to the increase in online shopping.



Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation

[email protected] | 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.

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