THE UK delivery network has always relied on the humble van to get all the things we need, where we need them, when we need them. Vans are vital to the UK economy and to make them as economical as possible diesel has traditionally been the fuel of choice. Which is why the results of the Zipvan VW petrol van trial will be eagerly awaited.
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With plans to reduce air pollution from Nitrogen Oxides diesel may no longer be the most viable option. Sure, for long journeys it will still be the most efficient fuel choice, but with low emissions zones in force – and ultra low emissions zones still to come – driving a diesel van into the city is going to become increasingly prohibitive.
Hence the decision to trial the new petrol-powered Volkswagen Transporter as one of the 400+-strong Zipvan fleet. As a general rule a petrol engine produces fewer Nitrogen Oxides so is less likely to fall foul of clean air regulations.
Zipvan is part of Zipcar, the world’s leading car sharing network, and they will be making ten VW Transporter TSI models available to London-based customers during a 12-month pilot announced today.
The new Transporter models, specifically the T28 Trendline panel van with a 2.0-litre TSI 150 PS engine and manual gearbox, will be available to hire from Zipcar’s London-based fleet locations. The Zipvan VW petrol van trial will run alongside the other 400+ diesel-powered vans currently on offer to those who need a vehicle on a flexible basis, from an hour to a day or more.
By signing up, online members will be able to hire one of the Transporter TSI vans by the hour or by the day. If you operate a business in London that requires occasional use of a van this may be something you have already considered. If not, maybe you should.
Commenting on the Zipvan VW petrol van trial, Jonathan Hampson, General Manager of Zipcar UK, said:
“The Mayor of London recently outlined plans to actively reduce the use of diesel in the capital. We have already completed the removal of diesel from our car fleet, and whilst this is significantly more complex in the commercial vehicle market, we’re delighted to partner with Volkswagen to continue with this process.”
If you already run your own van this trial period may be useful for making future decisions in another way. You may not need to hire a van but if the trial proves successful – and we can see no reason why it shouldn’t – it may provide vital information regarding the viability of alternatively fuelled vans after the introduction of the T-Charge on 23rd October.
If you regularly operate in London keep an eye out for the Zipvan VW Transporters. They are the ones with the special livery highlighting the fact they are petrol-powered to encourage companies to consider their options when it comes to their commercial vehicles. The more often you see them around the more likely it is that they are proving popular.
If you operate something smaller it’s also worth bearing in mind that it isn’t just the Transporter that offers a petrol option either. Volkswagen expanded its range this year to include a petrol version of the small Caddy range too. Offering a petrol alternative for van operators obviously makes sense from VW’s point of view.
Head of Marketing for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Sarah Cox, explained:
“The van market is currently dominated by diesel, but we know that customers are aware of changes to legislation and looking for other options. They’re scanning the market for guidance on what will be right for their fleets not just today or tomorrow, but in three or five years’ time. We’re pleased to be able to offer customers, in collaboration with Zipcar, the chance to try something new.”
Major change – any large-scale shift away from diesel will represent a major change – isn’t going to come overnight though. The Zipvan VW petrol van trial is still only a trial, and the results won’t be known for another 12 months or so.
For many people diesel will still remain the fuel of choice for the same reasons of fuel efficiency as always. But if you find yourself in London, or Oxford, or any other city that is proposing to ban diesel vehicles from the city centre, making the switch to petrol could help reduce operating costs in the long term.