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Fleets key to Government's electric car trials

Date: 24 June 2009   |   Author:

Corporate fleets, especially in the public sector, will form an important part of the Government's large-scale £25m trial of electric vehicles.

Starting late this year, 340 electric models from some of the UK's biggest brands including Ford, Peugeot, Toyota, Nissan, Mini, Mitsubishi and Smart will go on trial in eight separate schemes across the country.

The 18-month scheme is designed to assess the feasibility of large-scale electric vehicle usage ahead of the Government's £5000 incentive scheme for electric cars coming in 2011.

Though originally aimed at the public, fleets will now play an important part in the trials. "The trial is aimed at passenger vehicles and initially intended to be at members of the public," said Andrew Everitt, lead technologist at the Technology Strategy Board, the Government advisory group controlling the trials. "But it became clear that there was a lot of interest from councils and others to put vehicles into fleet."

"We were able to expand the programme sufficiently and there will be some with council fleets and others to assess real-world driving," he continued. Each of the eight programmes will make their own decisions about where to place vehicles, but the majority look set to go to work with fleets.

The Government said the project will be "the biggest of its kind and accelerate the availability of innovative low carbon cars". Science minister Lord Drayson said the announcement "signals our intent to reduce our dependence on petrol- and diesel-based engines, and determine the best practical alternatives".

"We want Britain to be at the forefront of ultra-low carbon automotive technology, blazing a trail for environmentally-friendly transportation," said transport secretary Andrew Adonis. "Our aim is for ultra-low carbon vehicles to b an everyday feature of life on Britain's roads in less than five years."

The first vehicles will hit the road late this year, and all are being run for a minimum of 12 months. Several of the schemes are tied up with energy suppliers such as EDF, Scottish and Southern Energy and Scottish Power.

One scheme definitely aimed at fleets is Toyota's trials of a lithium-ion plug-in hybrid Prius. "We'll look at private and public fleets we already have a relationship with," said a Toyota spokesman. "We are in consultation with organisations like the Greater London Authority and the Government Care Dispatch Agency, that type of fleet, and a couple of private companies."

The vehicles will be leased for a three-year period starting in mid-2010.

The eight Low Carbon Vehicle Projects
NameRegionNumber of vehiclesType of vehicles
Coventry And Birmingham Low Emission Demonstrators (CABLED)West Midlands110Jaguar Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Smart, Tata, LTI, Microcab
Electric Vehicle Accelerated Development in the North East (EVADINE)north east35Nissan, Smith Electric
Ford Focus Battery Electric VehicleHillingdon, MiddlesextbcFord Focus
London South East SE England and West Midlands100
Mini E Research ProjectOxford and south-east England40Mini
Allied Vehicle ProjectGlasgow40Peugeot
EEMS Acceleratetbc21Various sports cars