British Gas has been trialling a Nissan e-NV200for a few weeks at its Leicester and Newbury depots, the first OEM van of its kind ever to grace the fleet.
Its job has been to help British Gas determine which of its 14,000 drivers’ daily travel patterns are most suited to an electric van’s typical working range, including getting to and from work.
The van was run at maximum gross vehicle weight during the trial which shadowed drivers from British Gas’ national network of trained engineers as they carried out their daily duties of servicing millions of domestic and business customers across the UK. In that time the van covered over 1,200 miles.
Colin Marriott, general manager of the British Gas fleet, said: ‘British Gas, as a leading energy supplier, is already at the forefront of supporting electric charging innovation in the UK through specialist advice and the installation of charging points for both business and home.
‘With electric cars and vans coming of age, we feel the time is now right for us to introduce electric vans into our fleet and we are currently evaluating the benefits they can bring to UK fleets by implementing them into our own.
‘With fuel prices continuing to rise, one of the biggest benefits of e-NV200 is the breakthrough in long term running cost savings,’ he added.
Another task of the e-NV200 has been to put drivers into an EV sometimes for the very first time and get them used to their performance characteristics and the charging procedure.
‘Over the course of the trial, our e-NV200 TEST CAR drivers have told us they are happy to do away with diesel and go electric,’ said Marriott.
Marriott is also very clear that the British Gas purchasing strategy is to buy OEM products and not conversions.
‘Aftermarket conversions can interfere with a vehicle’s reliability. Our engineers are only efficient if they are busy looking after customers. By choosing OEM products we can guarantee that if a problem occurs a vehicle is fixed quickly and efficiently,’ he added.
Nissan is running a global proving test with large commercial fleets to find out how the e-NV200 TEST CAR performs under real operating conditions. It has already undergone trials with the Japan Post Service and FedEx in the UK, and British Gas is the latest company to contribute to the pre launch activities. So far it has received positive comments for its CO2 reduction, driving comfort and generous carrying capacity and payload.
‘Working with large fleets such as British Gas is invaluable to ensure we receive a range of driver and operator feedback on the new van before its launch,’ explained Francis Bleasdale, Nissan Motor GB’s LCV sales and marketing director.
‘The global trial of the e-NV200 TEST CAR is part of our process of making continuous enhancements to the vehicle before unveiling the production vehicle,’ he added.
Nissan has a close working relationship with British Gas as it has been its preferred supplier of home and office electric charging points for LEAF EV customers since 2011.