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Published on July 24th, 2014 | by Jake Richardson


Electric Cars For UK Government Fleets

July 24th, 2014 by  

It’s been a good year so far for EV news with Tesla’s Model S success, the announcement of a smaller, more affordable Tesla, and the release of their patents. Other developments, like Bhutan trying to switch to electric vehicles, only have added to it.


Now comes the announcement that the UK government is funding a conversion of its fleets to plug-in cars and vans. It isn’t precisely clear if this means all-electric vehicles or if it also includes plug-in hybrids. Called the £5 million ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV) readiness project, it also provides funds for charging stations.

At any rate, the Model S has been reported to be in the running for purchase by the UK government to add more EVs to its fleets. It may be a matter of language:  in the US, a “plug-in” may refer to a plug-in hybrid — like a Toyota Prius– with the ability to be recharged through a charger.

From online reports, it sounds as if the new UK government vehicles will be all-electric. A PR spokesperson for Tesla said, “The Model S we understand will be under evaluation for inclusion. It would be great to see California-built Teslas transporting Her Majesty’s ministers on official business across London.”

Does it matter if they turn out to be all-electric versus plug-in hybrids? Yes, because all-electric vehicles are not going to be using any fossil fuels and therefore could save the government money in the long run.

Also, it sort of sends a signal that electric cars are mainstream if governments buy them, because they tend to be more middle of the road. In other words, they aren’t usually perceived as being radicals. Generally, government officials are seen as staid.

Of course, it would be a nod to both environmental and public health awareness. Vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions are obviously going to contributing less to air pollution, and London has had some issues with air quality due to all the gas-powered vehicles and congestion. “I am delighted the Government Car Service is leading the move to electric vehicles  and I will be one of the first in line to use one. This is the right thing to do, with much lower running costs and close to zero emissions, these vehicles will save the taxpayer  money and be much greener,” commented Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander.

The first wave is expected to introduce 150 of the new vehicles, with another wave bringing in 135 later. Somewhat short of 300 vehicles doesn’t sound like much, but they will be the first, so there is a attention factor, if not a promotional bent as well.

Put it this way, if top American government officials in the District of Columbia were seen riding around in all-electric vehicles, it would get the attention of many  citizens.

Because other electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf are not as distinguished looking roomy or long-ranged as the Model S is, it would seem the Tesla sedan might have an advantage for transporting officials.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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  • patb2009

    it would be nice if the Postal services switched to electrics. Big viz and large fleets. HM Post covers a lot of turf, and it’s all predictable routes.

  • Ronald Brakels

    Sportscars for government officials? It’s supposed to be a job not a life style.

  • JamesWimberley

    £5 million and 150 vehicles is a drop in a large bucket. We’ll see if it’s followed by a real switch or just photo-ops for ministers.

    It helps politically that the UK car industry is now almost entirely foreign-owned, so any lobbying against evs can’t play the patriotic card. Nissan makes the Leaf in Sunderland for the European market, so the job argument is neutral, assuming a mixed fleet. Nisan’s NV200 electric van is made in Barcelona.

    • Offgridman

      Even if it is just a drop in the bucket, there is the chance that once the politicos get the opportunity to see what it is like to take care of business over the phone or chat up their girlfriend’s (or boyfriend’s, let me not be sexist), in the quiet of an EV that there will be quite a push to change out the whole fleet. 🙂

      • Bob_Wallace

        Plus a lot more people will get first hand experience driving an EV.

        There will likely be spillover into person vehicle purchases.

        • JamesWimberley

          Offgridman gets this one better. The operation will be “led” by the Government Car Service, which provides only 90 chauffeured vehicles for Ministers – riding in the back seat.

          • Calamity_Jean

            The chauffeurs will get experience driving electric cars and will talk them up with their friends in the pub after work. As EVs come down in price, those chauffeurs will be among the first to buy.

  • vadik

    Focus on BEVs is great, experience shows that fleet users are too lazy to plug in hybrids.

  • Steve Grinwis

    Hopefully they’ll be all electric. I’m all for anything that keeps oil in the ground and not coming out a tailpipe.

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