VAUXHALL’S factory in Luton is preparing to begin production of the UK’s largest commercial fleet order for electric vans.
British Gas is ordering 2,000 new all-electric Vauxhall Vivaro-e vans and has introduced plans to never purchase another combustion engine vehicle.
As part of its commitment to become a net zero organisation, British Gas owner Centrica has committed to electrify its 12,000 strong operational fleet by 2025 – five years earlier than originally planned. It will also make further orders with Vauxhall for electric vehicles as soon as they are available.
Centrica has also committed to make its 1,500 company cars EV only in the same time frame.
Chief executive Chris O’Shea said: “Everyone needs to act now to lower carbon emissions and help the UK reach net zero. We are leading from the front by not only lowering emissions for our customers and our communities, but by lowering our own emissions, and by increasing the speed at which we do this. Fully electrifying our fleet will make a big difference.”
In addition to the 1,000 vans purchased last summer, the Vauxhall purchase represents the largest commercial battery electric vehicle order in the UK to date. All 3,000 electric vehicles will be on the road by 2022.
Vauxhall Motors managing director Paul Willcox said: “I am delighted that British Gas has added to its initial order of fully electric Vauxhall Vivaro-e vans that now represents the largest electric vehicle order for a commercial fleet in the UK.
“As with all businesses up and down the country, tradespeople rely on their van as an essential tool of their work and our 300-strong retailer network is crucial in continuing to provide support to carry British business.
“The strength of the quantity of orders for our all-electric van demonstrates that the Vauxhall Vivaro-e can contribute towards the transition towards low emissions vehicles while improving air quality.”
While British Gas engineers can volunteer to have the new vans during the rollout, the company is prioritising high pollution areas to help lower emissions. Its engineers will install all chargers at engineer homes and is accelerating EV adoption in the UK for homes and businesses with charger installs and innovative EV tariffs.
The company is currently increasing the EV engineer workforce through training existing engineers, recruiting new engineers and creating 1,000 new engineering apprenticeships by the end of 2022.
“We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the government to create the new jobs our country needs as we all seek to build back greener,” said Mr O’Shea.
Mr Willcox added: “As the oldest British vehicle brand since 1903, I want to thank British Gas, a fellow British business, for their loyalty and trust in Vauxhall.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “It is encouraging to see that one of Britain’s best-known brands is leading the way with the largest commercial EV fleet in the UK. This is a huge step as we build back greener, lower our carbon footprint and deliver better air quality up and down the country.
“With more zero-emission models of cars and vans on the market than ever before, there has never been a better time for drivers and businesses to make the switch.”