‘Death knell’ for the ‘white van man’ as drivers switch to EVs

Vauxhall set to build new electric vans at Ellesmere Port

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The phrase “white van man” has long been associated with tradespeople who drive smaller light commercial vehicles, but is often connected with negative connotations. But the term could soon disappear after new figures revealed sales of white vans are on the wane – while the popularity of bronze models and electric vans are on the rise.

Data from the DVLA show registrations of white light commercial vehicles have decreased by 34 percent over the past five years.

During the same period those of bronze-coloured small vans have shot up by a staggering 215 percent – making it the fastest-growing shade across the board.

Darren Jasper, head of commercial vehicle leasing at Select Car Leasing, commented on the data, saying a change in demographic is one of the main reasons.

He said: “This news could sound the death knell for the term ‘White Van Man’, and that’s no bad thing. 

“In our view it often comes with negative connotations, and it’s unfair to label all drivers of white vans as rude and unreasonable. 

“A survey by Mercedes Benz last year found that 43 per cent of van owners are now women, while a third prefer yoga and gym workouts to fry-ups and pies. 

“This changing demographic could have something to do with the popularity of smaller white vans decreasing as drivers look to smash the stereotype.” 

The DVLA figures cover the period from January 2018 to November 30 last year. Vehicles included were in tax classes 39 (Light Goods Vehicle) and 36 (Euro 4/5 Light Goods Vehicle). 

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Examples include the wildly popular Ford Transit, Renault Trafic and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

The number of white models first taxed in 2018 was 187,260, but by the first 11 months of 2022 that had dipped to 122,795.

Silver models went from 43,410 down to 14,985, while black van numbers descended from 31,198 in 2018 to 18,263 this year.

Meanwhile, bronze was the only colour to see a rise – from 209 five years ago to 658 in 2022.

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Mr Jasper continued, saying: “Of course, white vans are still by far the most popular on UK roads.

“Our research found that on November 13 last year there were more than 2.2 million taxed white LGVs in this country.

“The next most popular colours were silver (484,773), grey (429,68) and black (322,793).”

Previous research from Toolstation also found that electric vans were on the rise, with almost nine in 10 saying they either already own an EV or will consider buying one in the next five years.

UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations reached 282,139 units in 2022, a decline of 20.6 percent on the previous year of strong post-pandemic bounceback.

The research, from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), found that 16,744 battery electric vans were registered in 2022. This represents 5.9 percent of all vans joining UK roads last year and showed deliveries up 31.2 percent.

There is an ever-increasing number of electric van models available for a broad range of use cases, helping drivers and businesses reduce their emissions.

However, uptake remains some way off the new car market, where BEVs comprised 16.6 percent of new registrations

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