Fleet News

Supply problems hamper conservation fleet's green ambitions

ONE of the country's greenest fleets is being frustrated in its attempts to choose gas-powered vehicles because of lengthy supply times.

Doncaster-based environmental and conservation training organisation the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers is facing a 16-week wait for dual-fuel Vauxhall Astra estates and vans, and a recent order for retro-fit liquefied petroleum gas Renault Kangoo vans ran into difficulty because the emissions reduction was not enough to qualify for a PowerShift grant.

Although 10 vehicles on the BTCV's fleet of 350 cars and vans are currently gas-powered, the organisation ideally wants every replacement vehicle on its outright purchase fleet to have bi-fuel capability. Martin Hall, BTCV fleet, insurance and purchasing manager, said the organisation usually gains funding programmes at short notice, but can be several months into a programme with no vehicles to show for it.

He said: 'BTCV is the largest environmental and conservation body in the UK and feel we should be setting an example by adopting cleaner fuels. Does the industry think it's acceptable to have to wait for so long? It does little to encourage fleets to switch to LPG.'

Vauxhall said the normal time for delivering LPG cars was 12 weeks because each is built to order, unlike some other manufacturers which build gas-powered vehicles for stock.

Volvo also builds gas vehicles to order and said a Bi-fuel S40 ordered now would be ready for delivery in mid-December.

However, manufacturers that outsource gas conversions, like Daewoo and Daihatsu, say they can offer gas vehicles within four weeks.

Malcolm Noyle, public sector development manager at LloydsTSB autolease, said: 'We are at the mercy of the manufacturers when it comes to lead times, but we must recognise particularly with vans that models tend to be offered in more diesel variants than petrol. While demand for gas vehicles is growing, manufacturers do not hold them in stock.

'If companies have an urgent need for the vehicles they should discuss it with the manufacturer or supplier and this can sometimes help speed up the process.'

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