Bristol City Council is offering businesses free trials of electric vehicles (EVs) to encourage them to switch to greener modes of transport.
They can trial electric cars and vans for up to two months to get a better understanding of the benefits of EVs and how they could work for the organisations, with the aim of cutting emissions and improving air quality in Bristol.
Eligible businesses, charities and voluntary organisations will be able to borrow from a choice of a range of vehicles with full insurance included.
Under the two-year scheme, each EV will be fitted with a device that provides detailed journey and charging data, helping organisations understand how they have used the vehicle, along with expert support from the council.
The announcement of the scheme, fully funded by National Highways, comes ahead of the introduction of the Clean Air Zone in Bristol in later summer 2022.
Older and more polluting vehicles will be charged for entering a central area of the city once the Clean Air Zone comes in effect.
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said: “We all want to reduce air pollution across our city and getting older, more polluting vehicles off our streets is essential in making our city a healthier place to live.
“Not only are electric vehicles better for the environment, they’re also cheaper to run and maintain than traditional diesel and petrol vehicles. Borrowing one of our electric vehicles over a longer period of time gives drivers the chance to see for themselves how the technology supporting electric vehicles has advanced and become more accessible.
“For organisations running larger vehicles, making the change to electric is a big challenge not just in terms of costs but also developing knowledge about the makes and models available, charging practicalities, driving distances and even the driver training needed to get the most out of battery capability. Our free electric vehicle hire scheme is a great way for organisations to investigate the possibility of switching to electric without committing huge funds up front. In addition, the support and guidance from our in-house experts will help local organisations find the best solutions for them.”
Bristol Veg Box is the first to take one of the scheme vehicles on loan.
Director Andrew Wilkinson added: “We are very excited about the prospect of testing a new electric van. Thanks to Bristol City Council we can now better assess the electric vehicle capacity to see how well it holds up with our heavy load and multi-drop deliveries.”
Out of Hand, a local design, print and targeted marketing solutions agency in Bristol, will also be taking one of the EVs for trial.
Commercial Director Nigel Muntz said: “We’re delighted to get a chance to test an electric van to see how it affects our business transport needs. We are very aware of the environmental impact of our business activities and the need to do more to improve air quality in Bristol and reduce our carbon footprint.”