FLEETS are being invited to join together to create buying consortiums to make the cost of introducing green vehicles cheaper.
The idea is that firms with similar requirements – for example, an electric van for urban deliveries – get together to set out their needs, and are put in touch with suppliers working on projects that could meet those needs.
The initiative is organised by Loughborough University-based Cenex, a government organisation supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, aimed at promoting the take-up of low carbon technology and vehicles.
Chief executive Robert Evans said the UK was good at research and development into new technologies, but not so good at getting them to market.
‘Industry needs to know there’s a market in order to invest,’ he said. ‘We’re looking to work with public and private sector fleets to form buying consortiums. It’s not about buying something that already exists, it’s about buying newer technologies only just coming to the market, or maybe a few years from the market that could be brought forward.’
Evans said there was always a risk involved in investing in new technologies, because of unknown lifecycles and associated costs, including residual values. By sharing knowledge and information, such risk can be lessened, he claimed.
Part of the problem with the introduction of new alternative fuel technologies is achieving critical mass – getting enough buyers to make the cost of establishing fuelling networks viable and selling enough vehicles to bring the unit price down to acceptable levels.
With nearly all green projects, getting fleets in as early adopters can ensure there is enough initial volume to get the programme off the ground.
‘We’re looking to target big blue- chip companies, local authorities and other fleets that are interested,’ Evans said.
‘They want to participate or observe, take part in project meetings and hear about data that’s coming through.’
The scheme is in the recruiting phase and there are currently three regions for the consortiums – the Midlands, London and the Sheffield/M62 corridor. At the moment, there are four fleet-led projects.
Evans said fleets could join existing consortiums if the objectives fitted in with their own or they could start new ones.