Fleets electrify

August 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

The National Grid is going electric – of course. London-based staff have just received four Nissan Leafs on a four-year, 40,000-mile lease contract; the cars will be used around the clock to transport inspectors between tunnel shaft sites as part of an eight-year project to construct tunnels up to 60m below the ground to house new high-voltage cabling. Exemption from the London congestion charge, and low running costs, were key advantages and the team also voted for the comfort and practicality of the five-door hatch. Paul de Jong, Safety & Sustainability Manger for National Grid says: “We are always keen to look at new ways of working to operate in a more sustainable manner, including the way that staff and materials are transported.  We wanted to see whether electric vehicles would be suitable for getting around already congested areas in London”. National Grid has installed charging points at its sites in Willesden and Hackney.

Meanwhile in Midlothian, four Mitsusbishi i-MiEVs have gone to Jewel and Esk College, a higher- and further-education college with campuses in Edinburgh and Dalkeith. Students are to oversee a 12-month trial in partnership with Midlothian Council, which will also involve the running of training programmes and EV seminars, and developing best-practice guidelines for operating EVs on fleets. The cars will be used by college and council staff in a variety of conditions, their performance assessed, and data analysed. The study is part-funded by the SEStran partnership.

Fleets – whether local-authority or private-business – are slowly coming around to EV use, especially if they want or need to project a ‘green’ image. Though Nissan is doing a fair amount of business with private individuals buying the Leaf, the other EVs on sale are currently selling (or rather, being leased) mostly to fleet customers. With benefits to users including exemption from the London congestion charge, low per-mile running costs, 0% BIK (benefit-in-kind) tax liability, a 100% first-year capital write-down allowance and further incentives, EVs are increasingly looking more appealing; manufacturers are backing up the proposition with all-in lease deals which cover servicing, maintenance, warranties and battery care, plus an agreed future value at the end of the deal to allay fears of rapid depreciation. My feature on all this for Small Fleet Review (a Fleet News supplement) will be published shortly…

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