The number of vans on UK roads has grown by 59 per cent since 2000 and vans now contribute £56 billion a year in wages to the UK economy, according to research from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and Bearing Point.
And new Ford-commissioned report suggests that massive growth in van use helped contribute more than €675 billion to the European economy in 2017.
The boom in online shopping, in particular, has seen a surge in demand for delivery vans. The UK is now the EU’s biggest online retail market, with 83 per cent of consumers here buying goods and services online, compared with the EU average of 60 per cent.
Meanwhile, the rapid rise in the number of self-employed people, up from 3.3 million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017, has also been a key driver of van growth, with the trend to vehicle downsizing another factor.
SMMT chief Mike Hawes said: “The UK’s van fleet is the backbone of our society, driving our economy and allowing millions of workers to carry out jobs that our country relies on. Industry is supporting these businesses by responding to a changing society, developing and delivering the cleanest and safest vehicles in history. To continue to thrive, this vital sector needs policies and incentives that encourage businesses to invest in the latest technology that best suit their needs to help them deliver for Britain.”
The Centre for Economics and Business Research report for Ford found that more vans are covering more kilometres – driven by huge growth in online shopping and self-employment.
“Vans offer crucial support to a world where how we live, work and get about is quickly changing. This report shows that through their contribution to the wider economy, light commercial vehicles truly are the backbone of business in Europe,” said Hans Schep, general manager, Commercial Vehicles, Ford of Europe.