Fleet purchases point to electric future 12 January 2010

A deal done with Sainsbury's will see Smith Electric Vehicles the supplier of the biggest fleet of electric vans next year.

The supermarket chain has ordered 51 Smith Edison chassis cabs, based on the Ford Transit and powered by lithium-ion batteries. When they enter service this summer, these models will join 20 other vans – the majority being Smith units – that Sainsbury's runs in its London fleet, making the company responsible for the largest fleet of electric vans in the world.

More Smith sales have been made in Leeds, where the City Council has purchased four Edison units through CENEX (Centre of excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies). The council's Claire Macklam says the investment, worth more than £250,000, will save significant cost, compared with diesel-powered vehicles based on 10,000 miles per year, and confirms that the vans will be used as part of the internal building fleet.

She says the council will carry out a baseline assessment of the electric vehicle, looking at driving characteristics and reliability. While Leeds council has purchased hybrid Transits under a similar deal, this is the first time the fleet has included electric vehicles. Further orders, says Macklam, will depend on the results of the assessments.

John Challen

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