An electric vehicle project that will see up to 3,000 electric vans tested with UK fleets from mid 2019 has been given the green light.
Led by global data technology solutions provider Hitachi Vantara and electricity distributor UK Power Networks, the ‘Optimise Prime’ trial has now been approved by Ofgem and will see the vehicles put to the test by Centrica, Uber and Royal Mail in the South East, South Central and East of England, supported by distributor Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, Hitachi Europe and Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions.
Earlier this summer, the Government said in its Road to Zero Strategy that it expects at least 50%, and as many as 70%, of new car sales and up to 40% of new van sales to be ultra low emission by 2030 and the trial, which is being supported by distributor Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, Hitachi Europe and Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions, will be used to provide insights on the impact of the major roll-out of commercial electric vehicles and the solutions needed to drive the switch, following this summer’s announcement in the Government’s Road to Zero Strategy that it expects at least 50%, and as many as 70%, of new car sales and up to 40% of new van sales being ultra low emission by 2030.
The three-year project is “intentionally vehicle agnostic” and will look at depot, home, and on-the-road charging scenarios to explore what the switch to EVs means for the cables and substations that deliver electricity to the community as well as for businesses and drivers needing to charge the vehicles.
The project findings – said to mark the largest cross-industry datasets on commercial EV charging and use – will be shared openly with the intention of using them to develop solutions that cut the cost of owning and running electric vehicles, such as charging EVs outside the electricity network’s peak times.
The project will cost nearly £35m, of which £18m will be funded through partner contributions, and an additional £16.6m will come from Ofgem via its Network Innovation Competition. The organisation added that its funding will deliver total savings of more than £200 million – equivalent to 12 times the funded amount – in benefits to UK electricity customers.
The project has been welcomed by Shirley Rodrigues, deputy London mayor of environment and energy, who said: “I welcome this ambitious project which will support the work of the Mayor’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Taskforce and proves the wider roll out of electric fleets is both essential for cleaning up toxic air quality and vital to the good growth of our city. I’m pleased that trials begin early next year shortly before the 24 hour Ultra Low Emission Zone is introduced in April 2019 in central London.”
Jon Lawes, managing director, Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions, added: “Embracing Electric Vehicles is at the heart of Hitachi Capital’s strategy and we are delighted to be actively involved in this exciting project. We will have real insight of how to effectively operate electric vehicles on the UK roads from charging through to a true cost of operation. This will provide a great opportunity to adopt EVs from a position of knowledge rather than guesswork.”