• Vauxhall van on the road

Vans cut traffic growth

Britain’s hard-working van drivers are helping to shrink traffic jams, according to research conducted for the RAC Foundation.

This is because more and more Brits are sitting on their sofas, ordering goods online and having them delivered, rather than getting in their cars and going to the shops.

The number of shopping trips made by car has fallen by 14% since 2002, says the foundation, while the distance covered by such trips has dropped by 19%. A staggering 1.8bn packages were delivered to UK consumers last year, the majority of which were the result of e-commerce.

“Several car shopping trips are being replaced by one van delivering to multiple households,” says RAC Foundation director, Steve Gooding.

Surely that means online shopping is responsible for the huge expansion in the number of vans on Britain’s roads? Surprisingly, that is not what the research shows.

It reveals that only around 4% of the 3.7m or so vans it says are now in service are used to drop off packages to waiting householders.

Those vans are worked really hard, however – accounting for 10% of all van mileages. The quality and durability of models such as Vauxhall’s Movano means that they can stand the pace.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers is convinced that demand for vans to service the needs of online consumers has been a major driver in the growth in light commercial registrations in recent years.

The foundation suspects other factors have helped underpin the registration boom, however.

“The question of why there are so many more vans is still a puzzle,” says Steve. “Could it be the product of more small businesses and sole traders investing in vans, and then using them both as a work tool and for family transport?”