According to a report published by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) earlier this year, businesses that make the swap to electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles could cut the fuel costs of their fleet by 75%.
Private businesses like Fruit 4 London aren’t the only ones on board; local authorities like City of York Council are also experiencing the benefits.
Last year, the City of York Council adopted a low emissions strategy to help reduce emissions from greenhouse gases and local air pollutants. As transport is a key contributor to poor air quality, the council’s aim was to tackle the emissions in its own fleet, while also encouraging drivers in York to reduce theirs.
To do this, they applied for the Energy Saving Trust’s (EST) Plugged-in Fleets initiative (PIFI) – an initiative that would help them understand where plug-in vehicles could work for them.
Due to the power capacity and space on the council’s premises, they were able to charge up to 20 vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf. Compared to their existing diesel vehicle, the Leaf would save them one penny per mile initially, but as fuel prices continue to rise, it claims that the savings would be more prevalent thanks to the lower running costs of electric vehicles. Not only does it save financially, but it also cuts a tonne of CO2 annually.
Purchasing and operating electric vehicles can cause some uncertainty. This is why a tailored approach like PIFI can be particularly useful. It examines an organization’s needs and capacity to identify suitable models in terms of range, load and size. Sometimes a pure electric vehicle is not suitable, but plug-in hybrids may be a better alternative. Either way, the analysis can give organisations confidence that they are choosing the best option for them, based on a life cost model.
The best thing about the initiative is that it is funded by the government’s Office for Low Emissions (OLEV), so organisations can examine the viability of implementing electric vehicles for free. For the City of York Council, the benefits were clear.
The analysis ‘demonstrated what was achievable in terms of lower operational costs and emissions. As a result, we are now eager to run electric vehicles in our fleet and can do so with confidence,’ said Derek McCreadie, Low Emission Officer, City of York.
Since participating in the initiative, the council has now bought a Nissan Leaf – its first electric pool car – and is on its way to acquiring five more. The next step is to tackle electric van procurement. But in the meantime, the City of York Council can promote cleaner fuels in York as an exemplar of the technology to other organisations.
Many other well-known organisations in a variety of sectors are getting involved with the initiative, including Boots, Urban Planters and Schneider Electric.
Boots wanted to examine the viability of using electric vehicles for their Pharmacy Delivery and Collection (PDC) service that delivers medication from its local pharmacies to customers’ homes, nursing homes and care homes.
The pharmacy’s transport sustainable development manager led the PIFI process within the company and engaged the relevant employees.
Ian Barnes, transport sustainable development manager, Boots UK said: ‘We have really benefited from the Plugged-in Fleets Initiative. It has provided an independent view of the viability for electric vehicles in our fleet… I’d thoroughly recommend this initiative to any fleet operator.’
Meanwhile, companies with strong environmental credentials such as Urban Planters wanted to replace their entire fleet with pure electric vehicles. The analysis showed that over five years, operating a Kangoo ZE instead of a diesel equivalent would save 13 pence per mile. At the end of the first meeting, they decided to purchase a Kangoo, and after all the cost benefits were confirmed, the company decided to replace their entire van fleet with PIV when they are due for replacement.
Schneider Electric has 49 company cars based mainly in London. Their most popular vehicle is the BMW 3 Series diesel. Comparing this with the Vauxhall Ampera Positiv, the latter would save them on average £951 per year.
As well as the PIFI analysis being free, there is another financial incentive to purchase plug-in vehicles. To promote the uptake of these vehicles, the Government introduced a plug-in car grant (PiCG) of 25% or up to £5,000 for eligible cars, and 20% or up to £8,000 for eligible vans with the plug-in van grant (PIVG). Eligible vehicles include the council’s successfully adopted Nissan Leaf, Peugeot iOn, Citroen C-Zero, as well as Azure Dynamics Transit Connect and Mercedes –Benz Vito e-cell.
The benefits aren’t just apparent for the organization; it turns out that staff are enjoying the new vehicles.
At the City of York Council, some members of staff like the Nissan Leaf so much that they are considering buying one themselves.
At Urban Planters, staff have found their new Kangzoo pleasant to drive. Director Richard Poole said: ‘So far we’ve found it a very good vehicle. The staff like it and it’s been reliable. It’s nice to drive, especially in congestion as it has no gear changes.’
Some 60% of organisations that have participated in PIFI have adopted or plan to adopt EVs.
You can download the application form for the initiative here.
Other resources for companies looking to reduce their carbon emissions and green their fleet include an online Fleet Health Check to offer simple measures to reduce CO2, and driving training subsidised by the Department for Transport, that can cut emissions and costs by 15% by training efficient drivers.