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BT starts electric van trial

BT has announced that Milton Keynes is one of the first locations in the UK where engineers at its Openreach division have begun trialling energy efficient electric vans.

As part of BT’s commitment to reduce its carbon intensity by 80 per cent by 2020, Openreach – which is responsible for the nationwide local BT network that connects homes and businesses across Britain to communications providers' networks – has begun testing two electric vans in Milton Keynes and two in East London, and, if successful, plans to roll them out more widely across its fleet of 23,400 vehicles.

BT’s fleet management division has worked with Allied Electric and Smith Electric Vehicles to convert two Peugeot and two Ford zero emission vehicles that will be tested for a number of things, including suitability for engineers’ work patterns, battery life and energy usage.

The vans have a restricted top speed of 70 miles per hour and can cover up to 100 miles between battery charges, considerably more than the average 60 to 65 miles per day covered by an Openreach van on a normal day.

John Small, service delivery managing director at Openreach, said: “This is fantastic news and I’m really pleased we are trialling these electric vans here in Milton Keynes.

“This town is really at the cutting edge of new developments from us. We are currently trialling fibre to the premises broadband from the Bradwell Abbey exchange – which is bringing super-fast speeds to the people taking part.

“And if the electric vans trial is successful it will provide a great opportunity for Openreach to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of its vehicle fleet. Not only do they eliminate exhaust emissions, but the vans could deliver longer term cost benefits and their quietness make them perfect for working in residential areas.

“Last year BT reduced the amount of CO2 emitted as a result of travel and transport by more than 20 per cent, by reducing the number of journeys made and increasing fuel efficiency. We hope that electric vans can add to our carbon reduction commitment.”

Mike Galloway, Milton Keynes Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said:  “It’s great to see BT contributing something to the environment and electric vehicles will play an increasingly important role in reducing carbon emissions and helping us tackle climate change.”

Openreach also believes that electric vans could reduce vehicle fleet maintenance costs, as the engines only contain a few components, rather than thousands found in a combustion engine – which means the likelihood of them breaking down is far less.

For every 150 engineering visits that Openreach avoids through network improvements and fewer failed visits, it estimates it avoids one tonne of CO2. In 2008/09 the company avoided more than 2,000 tonnes as a result of these initiatives and between 2007 and 2009, BT reduced the distance travelled by its commercial fleets by 9.5 per cent, and its fuel consumption by 10.8 per cent. 

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