The world’s biggest trial of commercial electric vehicles has been given the green light by UK energy regulator Ofgem, bringing together power, technology, fleet and transport companies to test and implement the best approaches to the EV rollout for commercial enterprises.
With businesses, that include self-employed taxi drivers, buying 58% of all new vehicles in the UK, it will be commercial vehicles that determine the speed of the transition to low carbon transport.
This three-year innovation project will come up with practical ways of overcoming the up-front costs that are currently holding back many of the country’s biggest commercial vehicle operators from making the switch to EVs.
Led by tech company Hitachi and electricity distributor UK Power Networks, the trial will see up to 3,000 electric vehicles from Uber, Centrica and a large UK depot-based parcel carrier take to the road, supported by energy distributor networks.
The project will deliver an end-to-end overview of what the switch to EVs means for the cables and substations that deliver electricity to the community, for the businesses that need to invest in new infrastructure, and for the end users that need to power their vehicles. It is intentionally vehicle agnostic and includes depot, home, and on-the-road charging scenarios.
Around 3,000 electric vehicles will take to the roads in Greater London as part of project Optimise Prime to gather vital information that will help the UK to prepare for and speed up the transition to a greener and more efficient future.
The project will launch early 2019. Following a programme design and build phase, the first Optimise Prime vehicles will be on the road during the second half of 2019. The test area will include a range of urban, suburban and rural scenarios across the South East, South Central and East of England.
Shirley Rodrigues, the Deputy Mayor of Environment and Energy says: “I welcome this ambitious project which will support the work of the Mayor’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Taskforce and proves the wider roll out of electric fleets is both essential for cleaning up toxic air quality and vital to the good growth of our city. I’m pleased that trials begin early next year shortly before the 24 hour Ultra Low Emission Zone is introduced in April 2019 in central London.”