THE six-month winter trial of Nissan’s all-electric e-NV200 van with British Gas has come to a successful conclusion with the energy giant placing an immediate order for 50 vans, with a further 50 to be delivered by the end of the calendar year.
The nationwide pilot of 28 vans, and the resulting order, which was announced today at the start of the CV Show at the NEC in Birmingham, is part of British Gas’ wider commitment to ensuring 10% of its fleet of 13,000 home service vans are all-electric by 2017.
Launched last November to determine viability of electric vehicle technology as part of British Gas fleet operations, the six-month pilot saw Nissan and British Gas working with Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions to manage the fleet operations and Gateshead College to train drivers in how to drive the 100% electric Nissan e-NV200. Hitachi Capital will be funding the purchase of the Nissan e-NV200s by British Gas as well as managing the fleet of all-electric vehicles.
The UK’s largest ever electric commercial vehicle evaluation to date, which saw the 28 e-NV200s cover in excess of 60,000 miles between them, was launched to assess how the vans performed in winter conditions during typical British Gas home services daily usage patterns and was such a success that some drivers were reluctant to hand back their vans.
“It was smooth, stress-free and I was really disappointed when I had to give it back.”
Paul Kidd, a British Gas Service & Repair engineer from Northumberland, said: “I can sometimes spend hours each day driving between customers’ homes, but the Nissan e-NV200 made that just a little bit easier. It was smooth, stress-free and I was really disappointed when I had to give it back. I would absolutely recommend the van to other engineers, particularly as the technology improves and more charge points are installed. It’s definitely the future.”
Colin Marriott, general manager, fleet at British Gas said: “We have been extremely impressed with the performance of the Nissan e-NV200 during our winter trial. The feedback from our engineers speaks for itself, with the majority saying they would be happy to keep the van permanently.
“Taking on 100 of these vehicles on a permanent basis demonstrates our continued commitment to leading the adoption of this technology amongst large vehicle fleets in the UK. With technology and infrastructure improving all the time, we look forward to expanding this number in the coming years.
Jim Wright, Nissan GB managing director, said: “The success of this closely-watched trial with one of Britain’s biggest organisations puts Nissan in a great position in time for the official launch of the e-NV200 this June. The feedback we have received from the British gas engineers has been invaluable as it has ensured that the e-NV200 that goes on sale in June is well-suited to British road and business conditions and we have high expectations for its future and ongoing success.”
Jon Lawes, divisional managing director of Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions which managed the trial, added: “We have been closely monitoring and analysing the trial throughout the six months it has been running and have been delighted with the way the e-NV200 has performed. We fully expect to see a continued increase in the adoption of electric vehicles for commercial fleet operations, and the success of the British Gas trial provides compelling evidence to support business use of electric vehicles.”
Available to purchase from June, the Nissan e-NV200 is a revolutionary zero emission compact van that guarantees significant savings in running costs while also helping the environment by bringing CO2emissions down to zero at the point of use.
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “It is significant when a major company like British Gas recognises the merits of electric vehicles with a major order. It shows that businesses can turn to plug-in vans with confidence, with the knowledge that they can be the most sensible and economical choice for their fleets. Drivers have found the vans are much cheaper to run than a regular petrol or diesel counterpart and they perform well in all weathers. The government is committed to supporting the uptake of ultra low emission vans, placing the UK as a world leader in their development and use.”