Vauxhall has received an order for 1,000 electric vans from British Gas and says further orders will follow as it transitions to an all-electric fleet.
The new all-electric Vauxhall Vivaro-e vans will be delivered over the next 12 months and be rolled out nationwide to be used by British Gas engineers.
The organisation and its parent company Centrica, which runs 12,000 vehicles making it the third largest commercial fleet in the country, has committed to transitioning to a 100% electric fleet by 2030 under the EV100 initiative.
It is also taking part in the three-year Optimise Prime project – Europe’s biggest commercial vehicle trial – which brings together leading power, technology, fleet and transport companies to test and implement the best approaches to the EV rollout.
Centrica says it will be making further orders with Vauxhall for electric vehicles as soon as they are available, which may include the all-electric Combo-e – available from Summer 2021.
Matthew Bateman, managing director of British Gas, said: “We chose to work with Vauxhall as they were able to give us a large number of high-quality and low emission vans to help us effectively serve our customers – and they will also work with us on future EV solutions.
“Transport is a key area where we can improve carbon emissions and is an important part of our strategy to meet our net zero targets.”
British Gas is not alone in increasing the number of EVs on its fleet, with leasing companies reporting record levels of demand from company car drivers.
The move away from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles has been driven, in part, by new benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rates.
A zero percentage BIK rate in 2020/21 for a pure EV has persuaded company car drivers to make the switch and Steve Winter, head of fleet at Centrica/British Gas, says it has had no shortage of engineers volunteering to adopt an electric van.
“We went out to our people and asked who has got off-street parking, does less than 150 miles a day and would want to take on an EV, and we had more than 1,000 of them saying ‘yes’ to all three questions,” he said.
In deploying the 1,000 all-electric Vauxhall Vivaro-e vans, British Gas will also target areas where pollution is a problem and where replacement cycles allow.
Stephen Norman, managing director of Vauxhall Motors, said he was “delighted” with the electric van order and thanked the company for its “loyalty and trust”.
“As with all businesses up and down the country, tradespeople rely on their van as an essential tool of their work and our 300-strong retailer network is crucial in continuing to provide support to carry British business.”
Vauxhall has outlined its post-Covid-19 recovery plans alongside other vehicle manufacturers in the June digital edition of Fleet News.
British Gas had originally planned to transition 10% of its commercial fleet to electric by 2017. However, it missed that target, pushing it back to 2020, blaming shortcomings in the charging infrastructure and the technology available at the time.