UK van operators are soon to make a ‘dramatic shift’ towards electrified vehicles, according to leasing company Arval.

It says this assessment is based on its latest Mobility Observatory survey, which found that 50% of respondents were either already operating hybrids, or planned to do so in the next three years.

The corresponding figures were 48% for plug-in hybrids, and 43% for fully-electric vans.

Head of Arval’s Mobility Observatory in the UK Shaun Sadlier said: “Even more so than their car counterparts, van fleets wanting to adopt low or zero emission vehicles have been hampered by both a lack of models and limited supply. This can be seen in the wide gap between the current adoption rate and that to which they aspire.

“But this situation is changing rapidly, so with a much wider range of electric and plug-in hybrid vans arriving on the market, we expect to see a dramatic shift. 

“In some respects, these new vans are arguably less popular than electric and hybrid cars because their ranges tend to be limited and they are also affected by the weight of the payload carried – but there is undeniably a high level of interest from fleets, as our research very firmly indicates.”

When asked when they wanted to adopt electrified vans, operators named a range of different reasons.

The survey found 43% wanted to limit carbon emissions and air pollution, 39% wanted to reduce fuel expenses, and 37% wanted to improve their company’s image.

The least common reason was to fulfil employee requests for vehicles, named by 18% of respondents.

Sadlier said: “Even more so than with cars, vans are both business tools and mobile billboards for their operators, so maintaining access to cities adopting stricter air quality measures and being seen to operate more environmentally friendly vehicles have definite benefits for fleets that make the switch.”