One in three vans on UK roads are now at least ten years old, as businesses continue to put off investment in their commercial vehicles fleets, according to UK broker LDF.

The data, obtained by LDF from UK organisation the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), means there are now more than one million vans aged at least ten years old on the road in the UK, up from 690,000 prior to the credit crunch.

According to LDF, sustained economic uncertainty and reduced availability of traditional lending have led many businesses to retain ageing vehicles for much longer than originally intended, with these ageing vehicles now accounting for 31% of all vans on the road, up from just 22% in 2007.

Businesses that push their vehicle assets beyond their reliable lifespans risk making false economies as reliability and efficiency problems occur more frequently, although SMEs find it difficult to commit to significant capital investment in commercial vehicles, due to lingering doubts about the strength of the economic recovery, and the difficulty of securing funding from traditional sources.

Peter Alderson, LDF managing director says: "A lot of small businesses are pushing their vans and other parts of their commercial vehicle fleet to the absolute limit, with many often well beyond their useful economic life. It is not just the repair costs and efficiency of these older vans that create problems – there’s also the very substantial negative impact on the business’ brand of using tired, dated vehicles and additionally, the potential environmental factors to consider.

"A growing number have started to invest in electric vehicles as replacements for ageing vans in their fleets, but many SMEs may still not be confident enough to make large up-front capital investments."