“Eco” and “Van” are two words that many people don’t associate with each other. When thinking about vans or LCV (light commercial vehicles) my thoughts turn to a time of rusty Ford Transits with smoke bellowing from the exhaust pipe and rolled up copy of the Sun wedged against the windscreen.

This used to be common sight on my travels however I’m increasing noticing a new breed of small vans based on their frugal passenger carrying counterparts that offer the best of both worlds.

Looking back to the results from the ALD Automotive Shell FuelSave MPG Marathon, the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic took the top spot for the most economical car (more here) but if you dig a little deeper you’ll find that this result was dwarfed by the epic “Hypermiling van” based on the same vehicle. Ford’s Fiesta Sports Van managed a mind blowing 108.82MPG from the frugal 1.6 diesel engine, managing to beat official figures by an impressive 38%. The Sports van was was piloted by BBC transport correspondent Paul Clifton and his son Doug in the ALD  MPG Marathon LCV class.

To see just how good the new breed of Eco Vans actually are, you just need to look at the final results from the event. Ford’s Transit Custom ECOnetic managed a mighty impressive 53.8MPG over the course. In fact out of the eight competing vans on the class, the lowest result was 48.75MPG. More impressively, half of the field managed over 70MPG!

Its easy to dismiss the results from the MPG Marathon as just more hype and spin for the benefit of manufacturers but the course itself was no walk in the park. The event was carried out under normal road conditions, with real world drivers, traffic and weather conditions.

There’s no shortage of manufacturers coming to the market either. Offerings from Mini (the Clubvan), Ford, Peugeot and Vauxhall are hitting the forecourts, all eager to temp business owners into the new range of fuel efficient cargo movers.

The Benefits

The benefits of Evo Van ownership go much beyond the saving of fuel alone. Many qualify for free congestion charge in and around our fair capital, meaning that companies which rely on transporting goods in and around the zone can reduce operating costs. 

Other operational costs such as van insurance are often reduced due to the nature of these vehicles. Companies such as Express Insurance offer policies that are highly personalised to business needs while offering great service at a very competitive price.

Another upside of these frugal eco vans is their very low CO2 emissions, these can offer companies huge saving on their fleet operating costs in the form of road duty [1]. 

The future

With a highly competitive market for fuel sipping cars of all shapes and sizes, its no surprise that the focus of manufacturers is moving to include vans and light commercial vehicles. The expanding market for fuel and cost efficient commercial vehicles is just what the doctor ordered for many businesses still struggling with the after effects of our crippling recession. We look forward to further developments in automotive technologies and alternative power that will transform our load luggers for everyone’s benefit.

[1] Full details of UK road duty costs are available on the GOV website