Frustration may not be a word you would associate with a company that has cut its average car CO2 emissions by 35g/km and its van fuel use by 17% in the past four years, but it is never far from the tip of Greg Parton’s tongue.
Not frustration about the achievements made so far, but at how far Archant can progress with the vehicle technology currently available.
Much of the Norwich-based media group’s environmental improvements have been made through a company car scheme whereby staff receive top-up payments in return for selecting a lower-emission car, and this has gone hand-in-hand with the availability of lower CO2 vehicles.
When launched, Archant expected around 10% of staff would take the green option, but it has exceeded expectations with a 25% take-up.
However, while advances in diesel and petrol technology have helped dramatically cut the company’s average car CO2 to 111.8g/km, any switch to cleaner, alternative fuels has so far proved impossible.
“I am frustrated at the slow progress in terms of seriously having zero-emission or low-emission vehicles available which are suitable and affordable,” says Parton, the company’s head of procurement and sustainability.
Archant has evaluated electric vehicles, range-extenders, hybrids and CNG vans, but none have made a strong enough business case for adoption.
“I have repeatedly looked at electric vehicles but I can’t get an EV to match the wholelife cost of a low-CO2 diesel even on the restricted mileages we do.
“I went to the Smith Electric Vehicles factory to see their Transit-based electric van, but it was too expensive.
“ I also evaluated a Modec but that didn’t work on two levels: the price and the fact that it was designed to be the equivalent of a five-tonne van so would have needed special licences to operate and drive.
“Range isn’t a problem for us, but there isn’t anything suitable out there at the moment.”
Parton says Archant also looked at the compressed natural gas-powered Iveco Daily, but this, too, was ruled out by price.
“We talked to a landfill site which produced CNG and we were all fired up to do this, but again the vans were too expensive,” he says. “We couldn’t get a price point which was close to making it work.
“In many ways it would have been ideal for us. We have a gas supply on the site of our printworks, so even if we had to use standard gas and not CNG in certain circumstances we could still get to places.