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British Gas begins winter trial of 28 electric vehicles

The trial is being run with the support of Nissan, Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions and Gateshead college and will last until April 2014, showing how electric commercial vehicles perform on set routes through the colder winter weather.

Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions, which already manages the entire fleet for British Gas’s parent company Centrica, will use the data to generate accurate cost of ownership modelling compared to a conventional vehicle.

Gateshead College, which is based near Nissan’s Sunderland plant where the LEAF is built, has provided training to all of the drivers involved in the trial, aimed at making sure they are able to best use its drivetrain.

The data will also allow Nissan to engineer the production e-NV200 to suit British road and business conditions, and examine how it performs in what is expected to be a cold winter.

Colin Marriott, general manager fleet at British Gas said: ‘We have worked closely with Nissan and Hitachi Capital to ensure that the Nissan e-NV200 is ready to support our engineers during even the most demanding of winter conditions. All 28 have also been provided with a British Gas home charging point and access cards to public infrastructure to keep the vehicles charged up.’

Jon Lawes, Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions divisional managing director, added: ‘After working closely with British Gas, Nissan and Gateshead College to set up the pilot we will continue to play a major part in monitoring its progress throughout the winter months before analysing the results with our strategic partners and deciding on next steps.’

The project is the utility company's second test of the e-NV200, following a single-vehicle trial last year. British Gas has said it has ambitions to switch 10% of its fleet to electric power by 2015. Nissan has also been conducting global trials of the electric van with companies in the UK and Japan, including FedEx, DHL and rural communities.

To watch a video on the project, click here.

Alex Grant

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