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Fleet briefs: Latest from Octopus Energy, Enterprise Car Club, DriveTech, VRA and Red Driving School

Man plugging in electric car

Octopus Energy secures BEIS funding

Octopus Energy, together with other industry partners, has secured funding from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for two projects in EV charging infrastructure.

They will investigate how the secure smart metering system can be used to optimise on-street EV charging, to use electricity when it is at its cheapest or greenest, and to help balance the grid in a future renewable energy system. 

As part of both research trials, Octopus Energy will provide the renewable electricity used to power the next generation of smart on-street electric vehicle chargers.

The first project, Agile Streets, will develop a new business model to encourage EV drivers to switch to a flexible charging schedule while connected to new on-street charge points developed for the trial.

The second project, SmartSTEP, will integrate smart meter technology with novel charge points, which were developed as part of the Innovate UK STEP project (Subsurface Technology for Electric Pathways). The charge points are slotted into the pavement and accessed via a separate ‘Trojan Energy Lance’ issued to users. 

Both projects will also join Octopus Energy’s Electric Juice Charging Network, which offers electric vehicle drivers a solution to pay for all their charging, covering different partner networks and charge points all across the UK. 

Zoisa Walton, director of Octopus Energy for Business, said: “Creating an effortless smart charging network is crucial to dispel concerns of EV critics and accelerate the electrification of transport.”

Enterprise expands car club locations

Bradford Council is expanding its car club in partnership with Enterprise Car Club, with four new locations providing ready access to low-emission vehicles.

The new vehicles are located in Burnett Street (Little Germany), the Crown Court, Jacobs Well, and Exhibition Road (Saltaire), taking the total number of car club vehicles in the district to 12, including a van and a car based at the Enterprise rental branch in Keighley.

Last year Enterprise doubled the number of car club members in the city, with a further 30% increase in 2020.

The Bradford car club fleet of low-emission and hybrid vehicles is available for rental from 7.40 per hour.

Sak Gill, Enterprise’s general manager for the North East, said: “We’re continuing to expand Enterprise Car Club across the UK, reaching communities large and small, to enable more flexible, low-emission and value for money options for both businesses and individuals.”

DriveTech retains the British Transport Police contract

DriveTech has retained the British Transport Police (BTP) contract to deliver level crossing courses following a competitive tender.

BTP described DriveTech’s bid response as ‘excellent’ and awarded them a score to reflect a near perfect submission. They also commented on the delivery of customer excellence to the contract during the previous contract period.

Back in June of this year, Network Rail and British Transport Police raised their concerns at the dramatic increase in the number of people risking their lives at level crossing after a surge in people not using them correctly.

For drivers, ignoring red/amber warning signs and/or barriers and proceeding to then drive over a level crossing is one of the most dangerous driving behaviours that places the driver/passengers of the train, members of the public and the occupants of the vehicle at significant risk of harm.

Des Morrison, DriveTech’s director of police and public sector business, said: “We are thrilled to continue working with BTP to help educate people on the dangers associated with using level crossings incorrectly.”

VRA webinar to focus on member well-being

VRAThe Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA) is holding a webinar focussing on how to manage well-being through the coronavirus pandemic. 

“How to Stay Well in a Time of Crisis,” will take place at 3pm on Thursday, September 10, and is open to all members of the VRA.

Speakers include Prash Kotecha of Mantra Consulting, who will present on reducing stress and building resilience, and Rachel Clift, health and wellbeing director at automotive industry charity Ben, who will cover lockdown trends such as anxiety, depression, financial welfare and mental health; top tips to manage your moods; and the support available through Ben’s mental health pathway.

VRA members will also open up about their own experiences - Derren Martin of Cap HPI will discuss his battle against prostate cancer and James Davis of Cox Automotive will talk about the stigma of mental health in the workplace.

Sam Watkins, chair at the VRA, said: “This webinar is designed to provide ideas and examples from both experts, and from fellow remarketing professionals bravely speaking about their own experiences, that could prove to be invaluable over the coming months.”

Red Driving School recruiting up to 400 new instructors

learner driverRed Driving School is looking to hire 300-400 new driving instructors nationwide following the reopening of test centres across the UK.

The number of new learners visiting the RED website is currently at an all-time high and is double what would normally be expected at this time of year.

Red is recruiting for qualified driving instructors from across the country and are also looking for those willing to be trained. Trainees must have held a UK driving licence for at least three years when instructor training commences, have fewer than six points on their licence and must not have been banned from driving in the last four years.

Applicants are required to pay for their training, but this is returned in full when they qualify and join Red as a franchisee. Trainees are guaranteed the offer of a Red franchise.

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