Public sector fleets are being targeted by the Department for Transport (DfT) in a major initiative to quicken the uptake of low carbon vehicles.
The initiative – the Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme (LCVPP) – is a £50 million Government-funded project that will see thousands of all-electric and low-carbon light commercial vehicles trialled and then procured by public sector and local authority fleets over the next three years.
This is the first time a programme of its kind has been launched here and will be watched closely by Governments across Europe as they consider new ways of getting low emitting vehicle technology onto their respective markets.
“This programme is about getting the early adoption of green technology into the market through public procurement,” explained Roy Collins, the man responsible at the DfT for green vehicle procurement at the launch of the tendering phase of the programme last week.
“We want to accelerate the introduction of green light commercial vehicle technology into the mass market.”
Vans rather than cars were chosen to lead the programme because of uptake of LCVs is rising much quicker than any other vehicle type and therefore, so are their emissions.
“There is a stark contrast between LCV emissions and those from other road vehicles,” said Mr Collins.
“There is also a low uptake of low-carbon technologies in the van market.”
The public sector is a significant purchaser of vehicles: it is estimated that there are 100,000 heavy and 200,000 light vehicles currently in public sector fleets.
It is also estimated that 75,000 light vehicles are purchased by public sector fleets annually.
It is hoped that, while only between 150 and 200 vehicles will be trialled during the first year, once fit-for-purpose low-carbon and all-electric vans have been identified, several thousand more will be ordered by public fleets across the country.
Six public sector organisations - the Royal Mail, the Government Car and Despatch Agency, the Environment Agency, the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London and HMRC – have signed up as ‘phase 1’ partners.
These six, along with a number of local authorities, will trial the green vans for one year to assess their real-life suitability as fleet vehicles.
“We see for example the potential for all-electric vans in urban areas, but we don’t yet have the real world understanding of how these vans work,” explained Mr Collins.
While the programme is initially aimed at getting environmentally-friendly van technology to market as quickly as possible, LCVPP will be expanded to encompass minibuses and plug-in hybrid passenger cars by the end of the year.
The project, DfT and managed by Cenex, will allow public sector and local authority fleet managers to trial new emissions-reducing vehicle technology at no additional cost.
Therefore any additional costs associated with trailing and assessing of the new vehicles, as well as any residual risks will be covered by grants awarded by DfT.
Manufacturers who think they may qualify to supply low-carbon or all-electric LCVs and, eventually minibuses and passenger cars, should go to www.lcvpp.org.uk
Public sector fleet managers interested in taking part in the trials or buying the market-ready vehicles in 2011 should go to www.cenex.co.uk/lcvpp