The new van market has bounced back this year following the lockdown-induced slump of 2020 and compact vans have been getting in on the act.

During the first six months of the year, sales of small vans weighing less than 2t grew 36% to 9,629, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, while 26,659 light vans weighing from 2–2.5t found homes – up 42% year-on-year.

Storming the ramparts were the Stellantis group models the Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo, which were the seventh, eighth and tenth bestselling vans in the year to 30 June – squeezing the Ford Transit Connect into ninth position.

There were, however, just 828 sales separating the Berlingo (6,995) from the Combo (6,167).

Electric versions of the Stellantis vans; e-Berlingo, e-Partner and Combo-e, will come to market in the fourth quarter of 2021, along with a Toyota Proace City Electric, which is built on the same platform.

Operators with the Connect on their fleets can now take advantage of the free-of-charge Ford Telematics Essentials fleet management software, which receives data from the FordPass Connect modem that has been in-built on Ford LCVs since 2019.

Part of the manufacturer’s FORDLiive connectivity programme, the tool is designed to reduce downtime by improving vehicle maintenance efficiency.

Having produced a fridge conversion of the Maxus eDeliver 3 compact van earlier this year, converter Coolvan has won more than £500,000 of UK government funding to develop an electric temperature-controlled van. The zero-emission fridge van, designed for urban food deliveries, will be developed in partnership with scientists from the University of Warwick, control systems specialists from Siemens, and a leading refrigeration engineering company. It is one of 62 projects to win a share of £20m from a government-backed R&D competition.

Coolvan managing director Chris Warburton said: “We have been trialling electric vehicles and low emission refrigeration systems for several years now and have built a number of prototype vehicles.

“The combination of additional funding, and the opportunity to work with highly skilled and experienced partners such as Siemens and the University of Warwick will accelerate the delivery of a viable zero-emissions refrigerated vehicle to operate safely in cities across the UK.”

Kent County Council has moved to help local businesses make the transition from petrol and diesel to electric vans. It has taken delivery of 20 Renault Kangoo E-Tech and four Renault Zoe Vans for its new Kent Realising Electric Vans Scheme (REVS), in partnership with Highways England. 

Businesses in Kent and Medway are able to have a two-month trial of one of the vans, with the hope that more businesses will be willing to electrify their fleets if they can try out an electric van first. Kent County Council cabinet member for environment Tony Hills said: “Making the transition to electric vehicles can seem a big step for businesses and Kent REVS provides a risk-free way for them to experience the many benefits over a significant period.”

Upcoming electric vans

Citroen e-Berlingo October 2021

Peugeot e-Partner October 2021

Vauxhall Combo-e October 2021

Toyota Proace City Electric October 2021

Coolvan electric fridge van 2022 (est)