A UTILITY company is looking into joining the charge to save the environment by using electric cars.
Hartlepool Water is trialling an electric van on the streets of the town this week to test whether they could replace the company’s existing fleet.
It comes as the Government aims to boost the use of electric cars by extending a grant scheme allowing businesses to get discounts on buying vehicles and urged people to help save the environment.
The one week trial of the Renault Kangoo ZE battery-electric car will be used to evaluate what fuel and CO2 savings could be made by making the switch from diesel vans.
Kevin Ensell, Hartlepool operations manager for the water company, said: “We will be testing this vehicle over the coming week on both rural and urban routes around the area and hope that this will be a useful trial.
“Even though this is only a week of driving around town we expect to see huge reductions in CO2 as well as significant fuel savings compared to our usual vans.”
The Kangoo will be shared around Hartlepool Water’s teams so that it can be tested for all types of work, from meter reading to leak detection.
“If the trial is successful we could see many more of these electric vans around town”, Kevin added.
Ministers announced that the grant will also apply to buyers of plug-in vans, who will get 20 per cent off, up to a total of £8,000.
The Government said there were 892 applications for the plug-in car grant last year and 1,052 vehicles eligible for the grant had been registered.
This grant offers 25 per cent, up to £5,000, off the price of an electric car.
But even with the £5,000 grant, some of these electric vehicles still cost as much as £25,000.
Announcing the electric van grant, Transport Minister Norman Baker said: “Electric vehicles are the arrowhead for a low-carbon revolution in motoring and as more models come to market, we’ll begin to see sales gather pace.
“Car buyers have had a year to take advantage of our grant and now it’s time for van buyers to get their chance to go electric. This is great news for businesses, given the lower running costs of these vehicles – fleet buyers tell us that this is one of the most important factors influencing their decision on what to buy.
“It is radical initiatives like these which will allow us to create a transport system that both cuts carbon and is an engine for economic growth.”
Business Minister Mark Prisk said: “Supporting ultra-low carbon technology in vans makes sense. An upfront purchase grant, when combined with lower running costs and tax benefits, can make switching to an ultra-low carbon van an attractive choice for businesses.”