Dave Durham, Fleet & Workshop Manager at Oldham Council talks to
Public Sector Fleet Manager’s Sue Hurst about their uptake of Nissan
electric vehicles …
Oldham Council really does have something to shout about because it is now one of the UK’s greenest public sector operators. After adding a total of 10 Nissan Electric Vehicles – eight LEAFs and two e-NV200 vans – to its fleet the council has truly underlined its green credentials, co-operative working and value for money approach.
The vehicles cost just two pence per mile to run and offer zero emissions mobility. This helps the local authority reduce its carbon footprint and, ultimately, provide better value-for-money for tax payers.
Fleet and workshop manager Dave Durham has worked at the council since 1982 when he started employment as an HGV apprentice. After progressing through the ranks he has gained experience at all levels and understands the wider requirements of the organisation and the staff.
Dave said: “Everything has to fit together nicely so when we needed to look at replacing some of the council’s ageing fleet it seemed only natural to look at an option that reduced emissions and improved air quality. It also fitted in well with the council obtaining the internationally recognised standard ISO14001 for its Environmental Management System.”
It is anticipated that with improvements to electricity generation and the national grid, even less emissions will be attributable to electric vehicles in the future. Here Dave answers a series of questions relating to the purchase and use of the electric vehicles to show other organisations how they work for Oldham.
You are now one of the greenest public sector fleet operators, what lead you to going down the EV route in the first place?
We needed to purchase some new neighbourhood cars and, because the vehicles were only doing local journeys, we decided to explore the option of using electric cars.
When we evaluated things after the tender process and factored in the savings on fuel, (charging is currently free in Oldham) maintenance and also the vehicles being 0% emissions the decision was made to ‘go green’. In all, eight all-electric Nissan LEAFs were purchased in 2014 to be in service across the borough.
A few months later we needed to replace some vans which were being returned to the leasing company. After discussions with end users it was agreed that two of these replacements should be electric and we ordered ENV200s.
The two vans have increased our commitment to electric vehicles even further and have made the fleet more sustainable. We were also able to utilise the government’s plug-in van grant which brought the purchase price of the vehicles down.
Has the decision to add eight Nissan LEAF cars and two e-NV200 vans to the fleet been worthwhile?
In short, yes! We started to see the benefits of running electric vehicles immediately after purchase. We found that they were, not only incredibly cheap to run, but reliable and cost much less to service and maintain too.
To maximise use of the electric vehicles it was agreed that they were to be are shared with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and Greater Manchester Police in the evenings. When the vehicles are returned they are put on charge ready for the next day – it is a simple process that works well.
What are the vehicles used for on a day-to-day basis?
The LEAFs are being operated by our district teams – one LEAF has been allocated to each area. Another LEAF is being used by the Enforcement team.
The new vehicles have made it easier for council officers based in our district town halls to get out and about in their patches, responding to the needs of residents.
The two vans are used by our grounds maintenance section and can be seen out in local parks and surrounding areas. Because the vehicles are easily identifiable by being fully liveried and in the council colour, they make the general public aware what he council does in the community without creating a pollution issue at the same time.
How are the vehicles serviced and maintained?
All the vehicles are maintained in-house at our workshop. Special training is required for maintenance of the motor, however we don’t touch this. All other components are the same as an ordinary vehicle. In general, maintenance costs are about half of those for a conventional vehicle. All the vehicles came with a standard three year warranty. Additionally we own all the batteries which come with a five year warranty so if there are any problems with the charge they can be replaced.
What sort of charging infrastructure do you have in place?
As part of the Greater Manchester Electric Vehicle (GMEV) scheme a number of electric vehicle charging points are available throughout the borough and at our Civic Centre. The electric vehicles can also be plugged into a standard household electrical socket.
We are currently arranging for a rapid charger to also be fitted at the Civic Centre which is being provided free of charge from Nissan, this will enable staff to charge a vehicle in 20 minutes. This will be really helpful and provide a boost if vehicles return to the depot, even for just a short time, during the working day.
Do drivers need to specially trained to drive the vehicles?
We have our own in-house driver awareness training which all staff using any vehicle on the fleet have to have completed.
The same goes for the electric vehicles however Nissan has provided vehicle familiarisation training and explained charging procedures etc to members of staff who use the vehicles.
How does sharing the vehicles with other public sector organisations (Greater Manchester Police & Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue) work?
By working with our partners at Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue and Greater Manchester Police together we’re providing better public value through collaboration. Community Safety teams and Protection Officers are able to visit the community and provide fire safety advice in the environmentally friendly vehicles.
They return the vehicles which are then charged ready to be used by council staff. The police also now have spare keys for the vehicles for convenience.
Would you recommend these types of EVs to other organisations?
Yes, I would recommend electric vehicles if the usage is similar to our own (for short journeys within the borough). I have already shared information with several other local authorities in the North West which are exploring this option and wanted to know more.
Sharing best practice with other organisations really can help people make better, more cost-effective decisions.
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