The Government has allocated £280,000 to help a further 100 fleets understand where ultra-low emission vehicles could work for them.
Twenty fleets have already been through the Plugged-in Fleets Initiative, which has been delivered by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) in partnership with EDF Energy and Route Monkey.
However, the extra cash aims to help more fleets explore the potential savings they could make by introducing plug-in vehicles, such as electric and hybrid cars and vans.
Transport minister Norman Baker said: “Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are an essential part of low-carbon transport.
“With increasing numbers of models coming to market, and the low running costs that they offer, they will be ever more attractive to companies.”
Baker was speaking at the launch of a report into the Plugged-in Fleets Initiative, which claims businesses that switch to electric vehicles could reduce their fleet fuel costs by 75%.
However, that figure will not be realised by the majority of fleets whose vehicle operations are not suited to the limited range and high up-front cost of current electric vehicles.
“Today’s report from EST gives fleet managers valuable insight into how different vehicles can be used effectively and could lead to increased uptake of low emission vehicles across British fleets,” said Baker.
As part of the initiative, each company received guidance and a strategic plan for the introduction of electric vehicles into their fleets. This included annual mileage, routes and scheduling, and total cost of ownership of electric vehicles versus conventional diesel.
Experts from EST analysed the results to show where electric vehicles could best be used by the organisations. The scheme did not involve the trial of electric or hybrid vehicles.
EST project manager Caroline Watson said: “We know that more organisations than ever are looking at electric vehicles as a long-term investment for their business fleets.
“But investing in an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle requires careful guidance as upfront costs are high. Life costs are positive so the switch is worth making.”
Participants in the first round of the initiative, which was funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL), included Boots, London Fire Brigade, Network Rail, Surrey County Council, Southwark Council, Tristar, Urban Planters, the University of Cumbria, WM Morrisons and York City Council.
As part of its carbon reduction strategy, Boots wanted to reduce both direct and indirect CO2 emissions from its transport operations.
It focused on its pharmacy delivery and collection service, which operates 1,100 vans and makes around 165,000 deliveries per week.
Analysis showed that the company could save on its fuel and vehicle costs by introducing electric vehicles to its fleet.
Ian Barnes, transport sustainability development manager at Boots, said: “We’ve been very impressed with the level of detail this study provided. It sets out clearly the savings we could make using electric vehicles and allows us to make the right decision for our fleets.”
However, while some of the London-based fleets that took part in the process have committed to investing in plug-in vans, Boots did not reveal if it would follow suit.
Others were more forthcoming. Urban Planters has invested in an electric Renault Kangoo ZE and will replace the rest of its LPG fleet of seven vans with EVs when its existing vehicles are due to for replacement.
TfL director Nick Fairholme added: “Many of the companies taking part in this scheme operate fleets in the capital and so would have the added benefit of qualifying for a 100% discount from the Congestion Charge and access to the UK’s largest publicly accessible charging scheme, Source London, which currently has nearly 1,000 charge points.”
EST insisted that there are opportunities for fleets outside London to adopt plug-in vehicles.
Fleets interested in taking part in the second phase of the Plugged-in Fleet Initiative should telephone Caroline Watson on 0207 2270310 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.