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North Somerset Council is leading the charge to the electrification of its fleet with the support of Elmtronics - the UK’s largest independent supplier and installer of charge points for electric vehicles (EV) – using intelligent EV chargers from Alfen.
The Department for Transport’s Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) recently announced the Go Ultra Low (GUL) project which aims to convert 25% of all government small van and car fleet, including pool vehicles, to electric by 2021. And North Somerset Council is charging ahead, having already converted a higher proportion of its fleet to electric – well ahead of the 2021 deadline. Thanks to nearly £130,000 received in funding from the GUL project, the council has converted 48% of its light van and car fleet to electric vehicles and now has 34 electric vehicles which staff can use.
Carl Nicholson, fleet manager at North Somerset Council says: “The transition to Pure Electric vehicles has been a unique journey for the Authority who have a diverse range of services, such as supplying community meals or highways inspections.
Analyses of our systems showed that the vast majority of our fleet is ‘return to base’ with relatively low mileage journeys. The highest mileage vehicles seldom cover more than 100 miles per day, making it almost impossible to ignore the reliability and significantly lower whole life cost savings that go hand in hand with running battery powered vehicles.
The running costs of the EV’s are typically at least a third cheaper than a conventional ICE vehicle whilst the employee reaction to driving EVs has been overwhelmingly positive. The council is estimated to be saving over 5000kg of CO2 per month at present and the residual values of our used vehicles are actually rising with the ever-growing interest in EVs.”
Mr. Nicholson stressed the importance of getting the right charging infrastructure and working with an experienced EV charging supplier, such as Elmtronics, to ensure good quality equipment is installed with the right specification, in the right place and in the right way. Nicholson: “Everything about EVs was new to us at the start, so working with Elmtronics throughout the whole journey has been invaluable. Having experts who understand all the various requirements around EVs and EV infrastructure and working with an organisation that reacts quickly and effectively to any questions or issues we experience is absolutely vital to ensure driver satisfaction and swift EV uptake.”
Elmtronics installed Alfen smart chargers for North Somerset Council’s EV fleet. Dan Martin, Commercial Director of Elmtronics, says: “Smart and reliable chargers are an essential component of successful EV fleets. As. well as having very high uptime, Alfen chargers allow remote access and detailed diagnostics of any issues that do arise, which allows us to react quickly and effectively to any issues, even sometimes before there is any impact on the drivers.”
Mr. Martin also highlighted that having charge points with access control and detailed transaction data is important for organisations like North Somerset Council in order to manage their user base and monitor the respective usage which is key for fleet monitoring as well as to keep track of employee benefits-in-kind. Mr Nicholson added: “The ability to remotely log in and manage a chargepoint in real time makes the control and audit of the estate easy and it is essential to the successful deployment for a larger fleet.”
Alex Earl is the UK Country Manager of Alfen: “We have been working with Elmtronics for a number of years now. They clearly understand the importance of intelligent, dependable charging infrastructure as well as the necessity for the highest level of customer service. Importantly they are able to communicate the associated benefits to their customers and it’s great to see that organisations such as North Somerset Council are now reaping the benefits of working with them.” Earl also mentioned that Alfen’s smart technology allows chargers to be load-balanced depending on the availability of power at any given moment which can potentially save organisations many thousands of pounds for expensive electricity supply upgrades.
Businesses across North Somerset have also been given the opportunity to use GUL funded business grants and install charge points at the workplace. So far over £30k in grants have been awarded to local businesses. Sara Sloman is the Principal Sustainable Travel and Road Safety Officer at North Somerset Council: “I would urge the public and local businesses to speak to us about how they can join in the electric revolution. There’s never been a better time to make lasting and effective changes to the way we travel. Having been through the transition to electric vehicles ourselves, we’re perfectly positioned to advise others about the many benefits and we look forward to being the first Local Authority in the area to have a Demonstration Charging Hub in Portishead due to open in Winter 2018.”
Photo 1. Carl Nicholson, fleet manager at North Somerset Council and Sara Sloman, Principal Sustainable Travel and Road Safety Officer at North Somerset Council.