Fleet News

Going green – is it cost-effective?

A LOCAL authority fleet has published the findings of a two-year evaluation into the effectiveness of environmentally-friendly vehicles.

Norfolk County Council tested a total of 30 vehicles as part of its 1,700-strong fleet over a two-year period up to June 2005.

It has now gathered together its findings and produced them in a new report called ‘Fuelling the Debate: A Report on the Norfolk County Council Alternative Fuel Trials’.

Those behind the report say it will prove invaluable for any company fleet executive wanting to know how alternatively-fuelled vehicles can be used to protect the environment and reduce costs.

A range of vehicles were used for the trial, including hybrids, LPG car-derived vans, light commercial vehicles and biodiesels.

Each vehicle on the trial was monitored for emissions, mileage, miles per gallon, price of fuel, maintenance/repair issues and driving experience. Vehicles using standard fuel also underwent the same monitoring process.

Although keen to keep the many and varied findings under wraps within the report, project manager Stuart Hutchinson said it proved introducing green vehicles onto a fleet was a ‘balancing act’.

He said: ‘We found that while some vehicles were good for local air quality, they were not so good for the environment in other areas so it’s a balancing act of what you want to achieve from a vehicle and our findings can help with that.

‘There was a lot of effort put into this trial but it was worth it. It came about because I was researching alternative fuels and found all the different pieces of information conflicted with each other. Also, many of the tests are done in controlled conditions which have no relevance to the rural roads we use so we wanted to conduct tests in real conditions.

‘The report will prove useful to any companies which are considering including green vehicles on their fleet. As Norfolk County Council has no vested interest in promoting or denigrating any particular alternative fuel or technology, the report can be viewed as coming from an independent source.’

  • Copies of the report can be ordered for £35 plus postage and packing via the www.altfuel.norfolk.gov.uk website.

    Summary findings include:

  • The LPG vehicles proved to be both economical and environmentally friendly, particularly in regard to local air quality pollutants.
  • The hybrids were also very economical and environmentally friendly in comparison to other petrol-based vehicles.
  • Biodiesel proved somewhat disappointing in terms of tail-pipe emission gains, but there did seem to be a slight pattern of increased fuel economy when biodiesel was used.
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