Vans are one of the fastest growing sources of CO2 emitted from transport. Electric vans are being made and sold - but currently still only in small numbers. This will now change with the recently revised CO2 standards for vans.

The challenge for vans

Vans accounted for 12% of road transport carbon pollution in the EU in 2021. But while emissions-free vans are ready, only 7% of the new vans sold in 2023 were electric – compared to 15% for cars. This will change following new EU targets to make all new vans in Europe zero-emission from 2035.

12% Vans' share of road transport emissions in the EU

154 grams The average new van in the EU emitted 154g of CO2 per kilometre in 2020.

2035 the year by when all new vans sold in the EU must be zero emission

A big challenge ahead

To meet the European Climate Law’s commitment to climate neutrality, all sales of new vans need to be zero emissions by 2035 at the very latest. While the business case – or the total cost of ownership (TCO) – for companies to choose zero-emission models is already there, progress towards zero emission vans is still slow. The average new van in 2019 emitted 159g of CO2 per kilometre. The comparable figure for 2020 is 154g – only half the rate of annual reductions needed to reach full zero-emission output by 2035.

Vans also need to go zero-emission to protect air quality. Vans today represent 14% of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from vehicles in cities. Based on data from Paris, the average van emits almost twice the nitrogen oxides NOx of the average car. NOx is a particularly harmful air pollutant linked to a number of respiratory problems, including asthma and bronchitis.

The new van CO2 targets

In 2023, the EU agreed to end sales of new diesel and petrol vans by 2035. Under the new law, CO2 emissions from new vans will have to fall 50% by 2030, and 100% by 2035. T&E has welcomed the law as a big step forward. But more regulatory action is needed to speed up the uptake of electric vans in company fleets.