Rural businesses in Warwickshire have plugged-in to a new project designed to test the efficiency and performance of electric cars in rural areas.
Ten rural businesses from a variety of sectors including farming, vehicle maintenance, residential care, local deliveries and business services have taken delivery of new electric vehicles as part of the Warwickshire Rural Electric Vehicles project (WREV).
The cars, which included eight Nissan Leafs and a BMW, were presented to representatives from each firm during an official handover event at the Rural Innovation Centre at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.
The project is part of the Warwickshire Rural Growth Network funded by Defra and led by Warwickshire County Council, on behalf of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – with project management being supplied by South Warwickshire-based Greenwatt Technology.
The Rural Growth Network is among five pilot projects across England which has been created to support small firms in rural areas as part of a major initiative to boost the rural economy.
Key figures from Warwickshire County Council and the CWLEP along with representatives from Nissan, Greenwatt Technology, Premier Electric and APT Technologies attended the event.
Businesses including Roylands Farms on Manor Farm in Morton Bagot, MJ Tec at The Ridgeway in Stratford-upon-Avon and Act on Energy on Walton Road in Wellesbourne, are among the companies included in the pilot project with each receiving a Rural Growth Network grant towards the two-year contract hire costs of an electric car.
Each company will also benefit from 12 months of project support, vehicle monitoring and an eco-driving training opportunity designed to optimise the use of the vehicle. Dedicated charging points have also been provided by APT Technologies and installed by Premier Electric at each company’s premises.
More than 20 Warwickshire companies initially took part a feasibility study to determine whether the electric vehicles would represent a suitable investment.
David Jullien, of Act on Energy, said: “We are a charity that advises people on how they can save energy in their homes so obviously being able to have a car that uses renewable energy is a very good scheme for us to be involved in.
“It will certainly help us with what we are trying to encourage people to do which is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions for climate change purposes and to also reduce fuel poverty and the number of people who cannot afford to heat their homes.
“The cost is probably one or two pence a mile compared with the price of petrol or diesel so it can be very cost effective and we applied to the programme since it should give us a saving in terms of travel costs.”
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, CWLEP Board Director and Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “It is a fantastic project for the CWLEP to be involved in as it will not only encourage rural businesses to examine and test the benefits and opportunities available when using an electric vehicle but it will also help to stimulate rural business development across the county.
“There are a number of benefits for businesses with local low mileage journey routes to adopt an electric car including significantly reduced fuel costs, zero annual fuel tax as well as an improved value to their ‘green’ credentials.”
Elaine Weston, Warwickshire Rural Growth Network Programme Manager at Warwickshire County Council, added: “The pilot project provides a great deal of support throughout the two-year contract with an opportunity to monitor the electric cars and charging points and collate research which will help to demonstrate the advantages of using low carbon technologies in rural communities.”
Mike Woollacott, project director, said: “Our expectations are that electric vehicles will reduce fuel costs for the businesses, lower annual maintenance costs and of course improve air quality. And we are sure that everyone will enjoy the new driving experience that electric vehicles offer.”
Picture caption: Front, left to right, Cllr Alan Cockburn (Warwickshire County Council) with David Jullien (Act on Energy) and (back, left to right) Chris Corbett (Corbett & Sons), Alan Dytham and Virginia Bowen (Pinnacle Care), Mark Jeffs (MJ Tec Ltd) and George Browning (GNF Browning)