Northumberland County Council has taken a step towards reducing its staff transportation costs by adding two 100% electric Nissan LEAFs to its vehicle fleet.
The matching models, which cost as little as two pence per mile to run, are available as pool cars for use by more than 1,000 of the local authority’s employees.
It is hoped the vehicles, which are built at Nissan’s record-breaking plant in Sunderland, will help cut the travel costs incurred by staff and councillors as they clock-up some five million miles a year on official business.
And, just weeks after the cars were delivered they have proved so popular that the council are already looking into the feasibility of adding more.
Councillor Ian Swithenbank, policy board member for streetcare and environment at Northumberland County Council, said: “We had three electric vehicles on trial for six months as part of a regional initiative and we found the LEAF was the one best suited to our needs.
“Before adding the LEAF permanently though, we had to see a business case showing that, once we had leased them, the overall cost to the council would reduce.
“We have clear evidence they will do just that and they will also make a contribution to the council’s carbon saving targets.”
Due to the geography of the county, many employees travel large distances to attend county offices in far afield places like Kielder, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Haltwhistle. This means the council officers clock up more miles than a typical council.
Hugh Clear-Hill, the council’s principal climate change and sustainability officer, added: “Each year council staff and elected councillors cover a large number of miles in the course of their work.
“We’ve got the two LEAFs on lease for 12,000 miles per year – a total of 24,000 miles – so it’s not taking a huge chunk out just yet but what it is doing is raising awareness and our hope is that in time it’ll build up and we’ll be able to add more electric vehicles to the fleet.”
Nationwide, the Nissan LEAF is proving an increasingly popular option for fleet operators and business car users.
Not only does it benefit from super low running costs of just two pence per mile, but it’s zero BiK (Benefit in Kind) rated – a crucial tax consideration for company car drivers – until 2015, after which it will be in the lowest band.
In addition, its ultra-clean electric motor means it’s exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty and the London Congestion Charge, boosting its business case still further.