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Electric vehicles join UK Power Networks fleet

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UK Power Networks has bought three new Peugeot iOns to join its fleet of cars and vans which are regularly seen on the roads across London, the South East and the East of England en route to power cuts, upgrades or new connections projects.

The electric vehicles (EVs) will be driven in London and Kent by engineers and technical staff working on connections, maintenance, upgrades and Low Carbon London business. They have a range of 93 miles and the company has installed specialist charging infrastructure at its offices in Canning Town, Elephant and Castle, Maidstone, Dartford and Eltham to cater for them.

The new cars will automatically become part of UK Power Networks’ Low Carbon London electric vehicle trials, which are studying the habits of London’s EV drivers. The research will help determine the most cost-efficient way for electricity distributors to meet demand from a rapid sudden growth in electric cars to ultimately inform system development and reduce costs to customers. Currently, the trials are monitoring 51 commercial charge points, 720 publicly-accessible charging points and 31 residential charge points, which will increase over the coming months.

Liam O’Sullivan, Low Carbon London programme director, said: “If a green, low carbon revolution is heading for Britain’s roads it will have an equally revolutionary impact on our electricity networks. We are the architects of the electricity network that will be needed decades into the future so we need to understand the impact EVs will have on the electricity system of tomorrow and plan for it now.

“We felt it was time to look no further than our own back yard at an alternative way to potentially power our fleet into the future. We’re taking a small but symbolic step in the drive towards an electric future.”

The company’s fleet manager will be watching the trial closely to see how using electric vehicles might reduce fleet running costs in the future. Electric cars currently cost more to buy but are cheap to run at about 2p per mile, compared with around 14p per mile for a similar-sized petrol or diesel car. UK Power Networks already has 75 Toyota Prius hybrid electric cars, plus about 1,100 mainly diesel vehicles.

Chris Pascall, head of transport at UK Power Networks, said: “Considering that we spend £6million on fuel each year, it’s a key priority for us to reduce the costs of running our fleet. We constantly monitor the market to ensure a good understanding of what low carbon vehicles are available and up till now the upfront cost has been the biggest blocker to operating EVs.

“We have estimated that the Whole Life Cost (WLC) of the iOn will be no more than an equivalent small diesel car. We see our new EVs as a long-term investment in understanding the technology and seeing how it performs. These are still relatively new technologies so we will be taking into account the original outlay, battery life, range and other issues as we increase our understanding of what the market has to offer and how it can help us in the future.”

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