Large Fleet Operator In UK Buys 279 Electric Vehicles

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The second largest fleet operator in the UK, Openreach, has decided that the time is now to go electric. It just ordered 270 fully electric Vivaro-e vans and 9 Corsa-e cars.

This is just toes in the water, though, as Openreach has approximately 27,000 vehicles on the road. As they say, though, Rome wasn’t electrified in a day. Or something like that.

Openreach electric vehicles from Vauxhall. Image courtesy Vauxhall.

It’s not clear which options Openreach chose, but Vauxhall notes, “The Vauxhall Vivaro-e is available with two battery options, with the 50kW unit achieving 143-miles of range under WLTP testing, while the 75kW unit extends the operational range to 205 miles. Supporting 100kW rapid charging, an 80% takes 30 and 45 minutes respectively. The zero-emissions Vivaro-e also comes with a payload of up to 1,226kg and can tow up to 1,000kg.”

With a wide-ranging fleet used for different purposes, Openreach could tailor its range to a specific purpose’s needs and go for the cheaper option in at least some volume. On the other hand, being a commercial operator, time in operation is often key to getting a good return on your investment, and 143 miles (WLTP) may not be seen as adequate, especially in cold and rainy weather.

The vehicles include an 8 year or 100,000 mile battery warranty.

New Openreach Vauxhall Corsa-e. Image courtesy Vauxhall.

Operating licence & vehicle compliance manager at Openreach, Chris Mullings, explains why they chose the Corsa-e for the car purchases:

“Although, the Corsa-e is a compact car, it is surprisingly roomy, incredibly easy to drive and comfortable on both short and long journeys. The range is very good and with its DC charging capability it provides additional rapid charging options if ever needed.”

Openreach isn’t just buying electric vehicles, either. It has been lobbying for stronger government requirements. Clearly, the company’s executives think it is imperative that we deal with the crisis of global heating and climate change. Open reach is part of The UK Electric Fleets Coalition — a founding member even — which wants the UK to set a target of 100% new car and van sales being fully electric by 2030 (with small exceptions). That would be one of the most aggressive targets in the world.

“Openreach is leading the charge on the transition to electric vehicles. Our order today is an important first step as we begin to move our fleet, the second largest commercial fleet in the UK, to being fully electric,” Openreach CEO Clive Selley said.

This is a good first step. How soon until Openreach orders another 300, or another 1,000? How soon until it at least gets electric vehicles to 10% share of its fleet?

The UK is one of the hottest electric vehicle markets in the world. Almost 9% of new vehicle sales in July were electric, far above last year’s 2.5% in July.

In the first 7 months of the year, electric vehicles accounted for 8% of new passenger vehicle sales in the country.

The UK is one of 10 countries sitting between 5% and 10% EV market share, with only Germany, Denmark, France, Switzerland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway above it. Well, I guess that is a several countries. UK can certainly do better, especially considering its relatively small size and both geographical and chosen isolation.

For more on the Vauxhall Corsa-e, also called the Opel Corsa-e (much more commonly here on CleanTechnica), see these summaries of the vehicle from last year:

The Corsa-e is not bringing down the house with blockbuster sales, but it’s doing alright for itself in Italy, where it is the 7th best selling EV, but it has not performed especially well in larger markets. It hasn’t been in the top 20 in Norway, Germany, France, or Portugal. (We don’t have totals for specific models in the UK.)

Opel Vivaro-e electric delivery van
Image courtesy Opel.

The Opel Vivaro-e  recently got updated with more range and comes in three different lengths ranging from 4.6 meters to 5.3 meters. Notably, and perhaps why it appealed to Openreach, the Vivaro-e is “the first electric van with the ability to tow a trailer up to 1,000 kg.” Orders for the van just opened up in June 2020, putting it into fleet’s operator reach just about two months ago. (See what I did there?)

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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