Thursday, 3 March 2011

ECO Vans - The Environmentally-Friendly LCV Option for 2011

This is the first in a series of posts about the features & benefits of the new generation of fuel efficient LCVs (vans).  With fuel prices continuing to soar and some parts of the UK now paying over £1.50 per litre of diesel, with the UK average in February rising to £1.34, van fuel economy is now more important to businesses and van owners than ever.




Eco Van picture courtesy of http://www.ecomovers.co.uk/ 


A few years ago, LPG vans were the way to go if you wanted good fuel economy from an environmentally-friendly LCV.  Though LPGs were not particularly fuel efficient - being based on large petrol engines - due to the low cost of LPG (at the start of the millenium, prices were around 30p per litre, though nowadays LPG costs around 50% of petrol per litre) compared to Petrol and Diesel, this meant they were extremely economical to operate.  Other benefits of LPG included lower emissions and therefore exemption from paying to enter the London Congestion Charging Zone.  However, since 2006 Commercial Vehicle manufacturers have been withdrawing LPG dual-fuel options from their vehicle ranges and from January 2011, Transport for London altered their congestion charging exemption criteria to only cover Euro V emissions-rated vehicles and those which emit less than 100 g/Km CO2; this rules out any petrol or LPG engined van that I'm aware of. 


So, we have moved on to a new era of economical commercial vehicles, with much emphasis being put on attainable MPGs and also low emissions, to meet the strict Euro IV & Euro V regulations and satisfy environmentally-minded businesses.  Many CV brands now boast a flagship "Eco Van" amongst their ranges and I'll be attempting to guide you through these in the near future, describing the features and functionality of each model, along with their inherent benefits and pitfalls.


Whether or not this current crop of eco vans takes the market by storm remains to be seen.  After all, viable electric or Hydrogen fuel cell LCVs can't be too many years away, but with a still-recovering economy, job cuts still looming and fuel prices, taxes and operating costs continuing to rise; vans with lower power outputs, speed-limiters, lower emissions and lower fuel consumption must be an appealing replacement - to savvy van buyers and fleet managers - for the power and speed-centric models which have been taking more and more market share over the past decade.


The first model in my sights will inevitably be the Ford Transit ECOnetic.  It would be absurd to start any analysis of UK van models with any model but the country's long-held favourite.  So, check back soon to see what the Transit ECOnetic has to offer 21st Century owner-drivers and fleet buyers...

The VANorak.

A new website has been launched where anyone can check the fuel economy & emissions data for all current & recent models of vans!  It's run by the DfT (Department for Transport) and you can find it here:  http://vanfueldata.dft.gov.uk/

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