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NHS Trust branches out into hybrid vans

The Royal Devon and Exeter (RD&E) NSH Foundation Trust purchased a 3.5t Ashwoods Hybrid Transit from Ashwoods Automotive and is using the vehicle for hospital courier transport.

The vehicle is up to 25% more fuel efficient than a standard diesel van. This means the vehicle delivers a return on investment after the first 20,000 miles.

And, thanks to a Department for Transport subsidy, the Trust was able to purchase the vehicle for the same price as a standard Ford Transit.

David Searle, fleet manager for the RD&E, said: ‘We are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our fleet where possible, in support of the NHS’ Carbon Reduction Strategy.

‘We are proud to be the first NHS Trust to deploy this innovative hybrid van, which not only cuts carbon but also saves us money on fuel.

‘With Ashwoods also based in Exeter we know we will receive excellent after-sales service and at the same time we are able to support a local company.’

The Ashwoods Hybrid drive technology reduces fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions by 15-25%. The system is entirely self-powered; it stores energy every time the vehicle slows down then transfers it to the wheels via an electric motor. Unlike other hybrids or electric vehicles, it never needs plugging into a charging point – and operators don’t have to worry about the battery going flat.

The trust’s van is also fitted with Ashwoods’ Lightfoot driver behaviour system. Lightfoot advises the driver on how to operate the van in the most fuel-efficient manner by using real-time audio and visual aids in the cab. The technology is proven to deliver an average 15% improvement in fuel consumption.

The RD&E purchased the vans through Phase Two of the Department for Transport’s Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme (LCVPP.) This initiative aimed to help public sector bodies in England and Wales to procure and assess 500 Ashwoods Hybrid LCVs. The DfT provided a subsidy of £3,430 per vehicle.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news - or gossip.

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