In this article, Denise Beedell, FTA’s Policy Manager for Vans and Urban, shares a glimpse into the future of vans.

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In the driving seat

The road ahead: what’s in store for the future of vans?

The road ahead: what’s in store for the future of vans?

The future is drawing closer with technological advances, such as connected vans that can ‘talk’ to each
other, fast becoming a reality. FTA, the business organisation representing the logistics industry, welcomes these changes and recognises their importance in line with the government’s Road to Zero strategy. In this article, Denise Beedell, FTA’s Policy Manager for Vans and Urban, shares a glimpse into the future of vans.

The government’s Road to Zero report, which recommends that all new cars and vans should be effectively zero emission by 2040, sends a clear signal to operators. Although electric vehicles only represent a small portion of the market, by the end of 2018 there were 5,395 plug in electric light commercial vehicles (LCVs) on the UK’s roads. And as manufacturers continue to refine their electric vehicles – improving the battery technology and extending their ranges, for example – they offer a solution for urban deliveries. This increase in electric vehicles is a positive step in the reduction of emissions however, FTA and its members have long been concerned about the lack of infrastructure to support their use. Following in depth meetings and discussions, FTA is pleased to report that progress is being made. Highways England has committed £15 million to ensuring that there are charge-points every 20 miles on 95 per cent of the Strategic Road Network (all motorways and major ‘A’ roads) by 2020.

Technological advances do not end there. Within the next five years, fully autonomous cars are predicted to be given the go ahead by governments and regulators, with autonomous vans expected to be close behind. Driverless vans, along with the introduction of drones and other robotic freight devices, would result in significantly cheaper deliveries and could be pivotal for the logistics industry, whose highest cost is human labour. Whilst the wheels are in motion and things are looking bright for developing technologies, cyber security may provide certain challenges, with hacking threats becoming commonplace. A survey by a cybersecurity company noted that servers and keyless entry are the top two weak spots exploited by
hackers. In March 2019, Tesla participated in ‘Pwn2Own’, a cybersecurity contest. Tesla put forward its Model 3 car as a reward if anybody could hack and expose a vulnerability in the electric car. This was won by a duo who successfully hacked into the car’s internet browser, an issue Tesla vowed to resolve.

Recognising this increasing momentum in digitisation, FTA is holding a brand new one-day conference, Future Van 2019. To be held at the NAEC in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire on 3 October 2019, it will give operators, manufacturers and industry leaders an insight into what lies ahead. Sponsored by Mercedes-
Benz Vans and headlined by expert futurologist Fergus McVey from 7 th Sense Research, discussions will
cover everything from driverless and electric vans to digital policing, cyber security, drones and even last mile technology. With environmental pressure and soaring consumer demand causing monumental changes in the van market, make sure you stay miles ahead with all the up-to-date information. For more information, or to book your place, please visit FTA for more.

Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods.  With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to Government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.

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