Fleet News

Power firm’s initiatives spark green fleet award

THE idea of a company subsidising hybrid company cars so that every driver can have access to one is practically unheard of. But this is just one of the initiatives E.ON UK, parent company of electricity conglomerate Powergen, has introduced in its bid to meet its core value of social responsibility and to become a greener fleet.

As part of its green drive, the group is currently working on three initiatives that will see Toyota’s environmentally-friendly hybrid Prius rolled out across all fleet operations.

This follows trials using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vehicles and a unique car-sharing scheme which rewards employees with redeemable points.

Fleet News has recognised E.ON UK’s work by awarding it our Environmental Star Award, sponsored by BP, which acknowledges outstanding efforts among fleets to reduce their impact on the climate.

As one of the UK’s leading energy suppliers, the second largest electricity generator in the UK and the second largest distribution network owner in the UK, E.ON UK takes its green policy very seriously with its core values focusing on the environment. Tom Dalziel, corporate responsibility manager at E.ON UK, explained the group’s green focus.

He said: ‘As a company, we do what we can to reduce carbon emissions and companies need to be as environmentally sound as possible. As part of our operation as a high-profile energy company, one of our values is social responsibility.

‘We are currently working on three green transport initiatives, for employees using company cars, green vehicles used as pool cars on business and short-term hire cars.’ Under the first initiative, when the 1,300 company car driver replaces their company cars they are offered a petrol/electric hybrid Prius as a green alternative to petrol or diesel choices.

However, when the scheme was first introduced company car drivers sitting in the lowest band were unable to opt for the Prius – a situation that was soon remedied. Dalziel said: ‘Previously, the Prius was too expensive for the lowest category of company car drivers so we decided to subsidise it. Now everyone who is eligible for a company car can choose the Prius.’

The second stage of the initiative involves the group’s 250 pool cars which are used at sites throughout the country.

E.ON UK recently announced plans to take on 70 hybrid petrol-electric vehicles for its pool fleet which it hopes will save more than £150,000 on fuel costs.

Pool vehicles operate on a three-year replacement cycle and the group will replace all run-out models with the Prius, planning to switch the majority of its pool fleet to hybrids over the next three years.

John Crackett, managing director of services at E.ON UK, said: ‘As an energy company, E.ON UK is very aware of the importance of reducing emissions. ‘Our staff drive more than 35 million miles a year on business, which is like driving 1,405 times around the world or making 70 trips to the moon and back. Having environmentally-friendly cars will make a real difference.’

The third phase of E.ON UK’s initiative involves its hire cars and the group is currently working with car hire companies to try to make green cars available for employees for short-term hire.

Crackett added: ‘We are also hoping to make the Prius available as a short-term hire car for our staff, so anyone who needs a car can choose a Prius or another green vehicle at no extra cost.’

The rest of the fleet is powered by diesel or petrol and Dalziel assessed the wholelife costs of some of his current fleet vehicles before opting for the hybrids. He explained: ‘Before introducing the Prius, we looked at the petrol and diesel versions of the Vauxhall Vectra and Toyota Avensis, which are our most common company cars. Over five years, the Prius was more economical in terms of costs and CO2 emissions.’

The use of hybrids is one of many green schemes being trialled by E.ON UK. The group encourages car sharing, public transport and the use of bicycles. Dalziel said: ‘We introduced a car-sharing scheme in 2002 and it operates across all our sites with employees being offered initiatives for participating.

‘For every journey ‘shared’, the employee is awarded 10 points. The points can then be redeemed in the staff restaurant or in local shops with 10 points equivalent to 50p.’ The group also tried other green initiatives such as using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vehicles but this was not subsidised by the company and was not seen as a feasible alternative.

Dalziel added: ‘We do not have any further plans to introduce more LPG vehicles as the tax break is not as great as it used to be and the way green cars are going the hybrid offers the best environmental option.’

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