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The benefits of electric vans to fleets go beyond low running costs and CO2
The days of having one type of vehicle propulsion on your fleet are gone. So says Colin Marriott, general manager, fleet at British Gas, who intends to make 10% of his 13,000-strong fleet of home service vans electric by 2017.
“If you’re committed to reducing the impact of your fleet in terms of its emissions – whether CO2 or other harmful tailpipe gases –electric vehicles should form part of the fleet acquisition strategy, alongside other technologies,” he says.
British Gas has already placed an order for 50 Nissan e-NV200s (the all-electric version of the NV200) with a further 50 to be delivered by the end of the year, following the UK’s largest electric van trial. The six-month trial assessed how 28 e-NV200s performed in winter conditions during typical British Gas home service delivery usage patterns.
To meet operational requirements, the vans needed to do 50 miles a day. “They achieved this with some capacity,” says Marriott.
In total, the vans clocked up more than 60,000 miles between them. The e-NV200 also met British Gas’s payload requirements. The trial was such a success that drivers were reluctant to hand the keys back. They felt the driving experience was “superior” to their manual transmission diesel vans. For British Gas, it was important that the total cost of ownership (TCO) stacked up. It has developed a complex TCO model, which takes into account energy pricing, infrastructure and the Government’s £8,000 grant for ultra low emission vans.
As well as electric vans, British Gas operates a number of electric cars, including the Nissan Leaf and Vauxhall Ampera. Paul O’Neill, EV category manager at Nissan, believes other fleet managers should follow British Gas’s example and adopt ULEVs. “Consider the benefits, such as low running costs and corporate social responsibility, as well as the opportunity to demonstrate that your business is smart, modern and forward-thinking,” he says. The benefits of driving electric vans can be appreciated by businesses of all sizes. “We expect the e-NV200’s appeal to broaden to smaller businesses as the benefits become better known,” O’Neill says. “There is a logic to an electric van. Fleet vehicles tend to run on relatively predetermined routes, making charging easy to plan.”
The e-NV200 is the first electric van that can be rapid-charged, but undoubtedly more will follow. The UK Government and the automotive industry are investing £1 billion over the next 10 years in the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), created as part of the automotive industrial strategy to enable businesses to make and test low carbon technologies and position the UK as a leading innovator in engine design. A number of pilot projects were recently announced. “There are already more than 20 ultra low
emission models available to drivers today – estates, SUVs, sports cars, as well as family hatchbacks and superminis,” says Tony
Pixton, chief executive of APC.
By 2040, fossil-fuelled internal combustion engines will no longer be the dominant type of power unit for new cars.” The Government is also supporting the transition to ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) through tax benefits, funding
chargepoints and other incentives. It is investing an additional £500 million to help drive the adoption of ULEVs.
The ‘Go Ultra Low’ campaign, launched by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and backed by the Government and car
manufacturers BMW, Nissan, Renault, Toyota and Vauxhall, is a clear statement of intent by both the Government and industry.
It aims to help motorists understand the benefits, cost savings and performance features of the ULEVs available today,
including electric, plug-in hybrid and extended range vehicles.
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