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Damian James' Blog: 2 June 2010 - Is there an alternative?

Date: 02 June 2010

Damian James is Head of Transport Provision for Bracknell Forest Council and a technology champion

I was invited by the Freight Transport Association to do a presentation on fleet best practice at their annual Public Sector Conference which took place late last month. I always enjoy these opportunities not only as I get to see some familiar faces and talk shop but also because I tend to learn so much from other presentations as well.

During my slot I talked about my experience of alternative fuels, in particular LPG, which extends back over ten years. I tried really hard to think of something positive to say but other than the lower cost of fuel and reduced emissions I couldn't say anything encouraging. It's all very well paying less for each litre of fuel than a diesel vehicle equivalent but if the savings are wiped out many times over by increased maintenance costs it's not worth a bean. It's also very true that the emissions are much lower than a diesel stablemate but again I suppose they would be if it's not moving much because it's in the workshop again and we are waiting for an expensive part to come from Europe.

Part of the discussion revolved around electric vehicles and I was asked if I would consider them on the fleet when they are introduced next year. As has been widely publicised Nissan/Renault will be entering the mass market next year with a range of electric vehicles. In answer to the question I responded that I would definitely consider them when they had been suitably tried and tested by other organisations.

Based on my previous experiences this is one race that I am happy to finish runner up in, rather be first and potentially suffer the consequences. There are not many organisations that are in such a strong financial position that they can take the gamble on future fuels although those that do I wish them luck. Just let me know how you get on, won't you.