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The vehicle rental and leasing industry is sounding the alarm on a lack of vans which it warns could hamper the UK’s economic recovery.

Findings from the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association’s (BVRLA) latest Business Impact Survey show that, whilst the sector is much more optimistic about economic recovery than earlier this year, there is widespread concern about van supply.

The survey, which was carried out in May, shows that 90% of respondents expect the economy to improve in the next six months, 70% anticipate improvements for the leasing sector and 75% are expecting to see increased demand across the rental sector as the easing of restrictions unfold.

The industry is planning for growth over the coming months with 71% expecting to increase their fleet size during the remainder of 2021. This is in stark contrast to the figures reported in the association’s February survey, which revealed that only 54% anticipated fleet growth this year.

However, although optimistic about economic recovery, the industry remains very concerned about vehicle supply, particularly vans. Over 90% of respondents to the latest survey suggest that the current supply of ICE vans was a barrier to meeting the needs of customers and 41% say the barrier was extreme. Another 84% think the supply of vans to their organisation is getting worse.

BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “The van parc is growing exponentially at a rate double that of cars, yet the supply of battery electric vans is an acute problem. Although we have seen an increase in the number of makes and models coming to market, there is a particular dearth of vans capable of long ranges or towing.

“Vans play a vital role in the UK economy with one in ten workers relying on one to do their job. A special focus on vans is needed if this sector is to achieve parity with the more developed electric car market and the BVRLA will be making recommendations to government.”