The contract received immediate Government backing, with Transport Minister Lord Macdonald saying: 'This agreement sends a loud message about the cost-effectiveness and environmental value of clean fuel vehicles. Such vehicles have a significant impact on improving air quality and reducing the threat of climate change.' Drive Assist is purchasing about half of the vehicles and taking the remainder on contract hire from Arriva Automotive Solutions on six-month replacement cycles. Powershift is providing grants towards the conversion of the 3,200 vehicles.
Once Drive Assist has finished with its purchased vehicles on which it is taking the residual risk, it will sell them back to Vauxhall. Arriva will take the remainder for 36 months on a secondary lease for use by other customers. Once this agreement is over, all the defleeted vehicles will be sold through Vauxhall's Network Q programme or, if they have particularly high mileage, disposed of through auction. Before the end of this year 300 Vectras will be delivered and the remaining vehicles throughout 2000, with Flogas supplying the LPG and bunkering facilities at Drive Assist's headquarters.
Such an order is unprecented in the fleet industry, which has so far been cautious about alternative-fuelled vehicles. However, it sees Vauxhall achieve its 1999 LPG vehicle sales target in one deal. In April it said it hoped sales would reach 3,000 by the year's end. Reilly said: 'We have made dual fuel vehicles a priority. It's taken a lot of investment and this latest contract is a reward for our efforts and, without doubt, it will lead to others, in fleet and retail markets, following Drive Assist's lead.'