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UK Department For Transport Study on Light Goods Vehicle CO2 Concludes that Potential CO2 Reduction from Low-Carbon Technologies Within 5 Years is Quite Low, But Much Larger by 2020

Measured variations in CO2 emissions for different drive cycles. Click to enlarge.

The UK Department for Transport has published the findings from the Light Goods Vehicle (LGV or van) CO2 emissions study completed earlier. This project, carried out by a consortium led by AEA Technology and supported by Millbrook and Ricardo, was commissioned by DfT to provide evidence of the CO2 outcomes from the current use of vans, reflecting varying operational and technological factors, and the potential for future emissions reductions.

The study judged that the potential CO2 emissions reductions from low-carbon technologies within the next five years is “quite low” (around a 6% improvement), although in the longer term, i.e. between now and 2020, the potential CO2 emissions reduction is much larger (up to 30% on a well-to-wheels basis).

The study provides an estimate of sales-weighted new van CO2 emissions of 207.6 g/km; the proposed EU regulated target for new van CO2 is 175 g/km in 2016 and 135 g/km by 2020.

Light goods vehicles (LGV) are defined as goods vehicles whose gross vehicle weight (GVW) does not exceed 3.5 tonnes, and are described as vans. Between 2004 and 2006, while the emissions of CO2 from passenger cars declined by 3%, that from LGVs grew by 22%.

The work program of the study comprised 8 tasks:

  • A review of the available data on lading factor and average load for vans in the United Kingdom.
  • A review of the available data on the impact of tire pressure monitoring systems and low rolling resistance tires.
  • A review of the available data on the CO2 emissions of vans at Type Approval.
  • An assessment of the impact of load state upon the CO2 emissions of vans in the UK.
  • Assessment of the potential for CO2 emission reduction from vans in each of the Reference Mass categories in the short, medium, and longer term. 18 different emerging technologies were considered (8 affecting vehicles. power train, 6 being nonpower train technologies and 4 which are anticipated to increase CO2 emissions).
  • The development and validation of a modeling method to correct CO2 emissions measured on a chassis-cab vehicle to those which would be measured on the finished vehicle.
  • The development and validation of a modeling method to correct CO2 emissions measured on a regulatory drive cycle to those which would be produced on a real-world drive cycle at realistic load factors for the class and type of van being considered.
  • A comparison of regulatory test cycles with the real-world operating conditions of vans in the United Kingdom, with particular reference to the accuracy of the regulatory cycles as predictors of real-world CO2 emissions.

The authors of the study made of number of recommendations including:

  • The relative importance of knowledge on the loading/lading characteristics should be re-evaluated and debated in the context of the study’s findings that it has a relatively minor importance in determining van CO2 emissions.

  • The motor industry and UK Government should continue to use their concerted efforts to encourage the development and uptake of low carbon van technologies to accelerate the reduction in van CO2 emissions relative to a “business as usual” scenario. However, operational factors need to be included in the defining of the “most environmentally friendly van”, because vans with the lowest CO2 emissions might not be able to carry the volume of weight that needs to be moved.

  • The previous studies into the communication of benefits, and purchasing behavior (especially those funded by DfT, LowCVP and Act on CO2 Campaign) should be built upon to publicize the contents of the recently published VCA Van CO2 emissions database, and to emphasize the benefits of selecting the best van for the role required. (This may involve expressing relative CO2 emissions, currently in g/km, as fuel costs, e.g. £ fuel costs per 100 miles, and imaginative labelling.)

    Operational factors need to be included in the defining of the “most environmentally friendly van”—again, because vans with the lowest CO2 emissions might not be able to carry the volume of weight that needs to be moved.

  • Use the project’s van simulation model to further investigate the effects of van shape, load and drive cycle to further characterize the sensitivity of these parameters for different van application sectors, and define/prioritize those circumstances where there is a large difference in CO2 emissions for different choices of vans. This quantification of benefit can then be used in the development of policy and incentives.

  • The findings from this research project and the vehicle simulation tool should be used within the DfT-funded Van Best Practice (VBP) program to provide identification of the vehicle operating envelops that generate high CO2 emissions, and the subsequent quantification of the savings that could be generated by alternative operational practices.




Since the massive loss of public support for climate change, only UK is still flailing about with CO2 emissions. Likely due to the Royal Societies clinging to the old global warming story - rather than moving on to accept the introduction of dozens of new very low cost energy independence solutions. It's a new world.


You run the same line on every post about CO2 emissions reduction Sulleny, as if you think if you say it enough it might come true. Meanwhile, the science for human induced climate change is irrefutable and action becomes more and more difficult. The objections to climate change action come from fossil fuel lobby groups, short-sighted politicians and ideologues not from bona fide scientists with expertise in the field. many are starting to say that it's already too late.

At least the UK is doing something, even if it's sometimes underwhelming

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