A multi-million pound investment that allows businesses to try electric vehicles for free before they buy has received a further boost from Highways England.
The scheme sees the company hand funding to local authorities to encourage businesses with diesel van fleets to make the switch to electric, thanks to free trials of electric vehicles for two months.
The scheme has already been successfully piloted with the Energy Saving Trust and a launch with Leeds City Council earlier in the year, and now councils in Coventry, Kent, Nottingham, and Sheffield are working to set up their own schemes.
This now includes more than £3m funding agreed with Bristol City Council and announced to mark World EV Day (9 September).
In total, £9.3m funding is being made to local authorities.
Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England chief executive, said: “We are working with councils across the country to encourage businesses to make the switch to electric vehicles and we expect many more to start using electric vehicles when they experience the savings possible.”
The electric vans used for the trial scheme in Leeds have already been put to use during the five months of lockdown, driving more than 10,000 miles as part of the city’s emergency coronavirus response. The vehicles have been used in a number of ways including delivering local food parcels to those self-isolating or shielding, transporting key council key workers and supporting the work of vital third sector organisations.
Councillor James Lewis, Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council said: “Since launching the EV Trials scheme with Highways England in January, we’ve had a great response. Hundreds of local businesses and charities have already signed up to the scheme and its fantastic to see so many organisations leading by example.
“It’s still early days, but it’s really promising to see participants starting to invest in electric vehicles of their own. Every organisation choosing to switch to EVs is making a real difference—helping to clean the air we breathe and tackle the climate emergency.”
The funds come from Highways England’s Designated Funds programme, which is divided into four funding streams covering environment and wellbeing, users and community, safety and congestion and innovation and modernisation. Between 2015 and 2020 the programme is credited with having ensured over 95% of England’s motorways and major A-roads are within 20 miles of a rapid electric vehicle charging point.