Van fleets are returning to established emissions reduction strategies as many choose to slow their electrification processes, according to the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).

The industry body said an increasing number of fleets were working to reduce CO2 emissions from their existing diesel vans rather than adopt further EVs.

AFP chair Paul Hollick said: “There has been a general assumption among van fleets in recent years that the arrival of EVs would mean a decisive move towards meeting corporate ESG targets in the medium-long term but, for many, it has become clear that electrification is just not going to happen at the expected speed, so they are returning to established strategies.

“There is a renewed interest in areas such as utilisation analysis, driver training and idling reduction, all of which can help to cut CO2, NOx and other emissions. Interestingly, this doesn’t appear to be just a case of returning to the ‘old school’, with new products designed to help fleet managers in this area continuing to make their way to market.”

Hollick said van fleets had slowed their adoption of EVs in the face of several difficulties.

He said: “Many of our members who were committed to electric van adoption as soon as supply was available have slowed or even put a temporary halt on the rate of acquisition. 

“They are hitting a range of operational issues – range, payload, charging infrastructure and more – that means replacing existing diesel vehicles directly with electric equivalents is not yet practical.

“This doesn’t mean that they are intending to resist electrification but that more work needs to be done in all kinds of areas including domestic and public charging, changes in operational practices and improvements in the vehicles themselves.”

Hollick added that some AFP members were frustrated by what they saw as a lack of action being taken about making hydrogen a practical alternative to electrification for vans.

He said: “In other European countries, there is considerable public and private investment underway in creating a hydrogen transport infrastructure but in the UK, it barely exists. 

“This means that the hydrogen vans that are entering production globally are unlikely to make their way here in anything other than very small numbers.

“Many fleet operators believe a mix of hydrogen and electric power would be ideal for the van fleets of the future, and it does feel as though this is a potential solution that is being effectively denied for no good reason. There may also be a role for synthetic fuels and this is something that needs further investigation.”