Kent County Council offers a ‘try before you buy’ electric van initiative for local business

A scheme by Kent County Council in partnership with Highways England is allowing businesses to try all-electric commercial vehicles. The idea is to give businesses an insight into the ease of use and cost savings of using an electric vehicle (EV) compared to an internal combustion engine (ICE) model.

For the Kent Realising Electric Vans Scheme (REVS), the county council has taken delivery of 20 all-electric Renault Kangoo E-Tech and four Renault Zoe vans. It will allow local businesses to enjoy a free trial of one of the award-winning light commercial vehicles for up two months.

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Kent REVS is being operated by Commercial Services Kent Ltd (CSKL), with the ultimate aim of reducing carbon emissions and air pollution across the Kent road network. It is also hoped that it will accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles throughout the region.

In line with the goal of this year’s Clean Air Day, the scheme will highlight the impact of air pollution on the health of children. Hopefully, it will change attitudes and will help to reduce roadside pollution that youngsters can be particularly susceptible to.

The rationale of Kent REVS is that more businesses will be more likely to convert their fleets to electric if they have an opportunity to try the vehicles for an extended period, before committing to a purchase or long-term lease.

Highways England has provided £1.5 million funding for the two-year initiative, with the eventual aim that Kent REVS will have a fleet of 48 EVs available for trial. As part of the funding, and to aid with the ease of charging, CSKL has installed new charge points at its operating bases in New Hythe and Kings Hill.

A further 10 rapid chargers planned for other publicly accessible locations across the County. The installation complements Kent County Council’s plans to increase the number of EV charging points for businesses and the public across the county.

The launch of Kent REVS follows the successful implementation of a similar scheme by Leeds City Council in 2020. This was also funded by Highways England and features 20 Renault Kangoo E-Tech vans.

Hopefully, more councils follow suit to show off the advantages of zero-emissions vehicles. It will help dispel many myths, reveal the ease of use and cost-savings to help speed up the adoption of driving electric.

Tony Hills, Kent County Council cabinet member for Environment, said: “Making the transition to electric vehicles can seem a big step for businesses and Kent REVS provides a risk-free way for them to experience the many benefits over a significant period.”

Vincent Tourette, managing director Renault UK, commented: “It’s fantastic to see that Renault Kangoo E-Tech and Renault Zoe Van have been chosen as the electric vans to launch Kent REVS and that they will play a part in helping Kent County Council achieve a greener, cleaner transport infrastructure throughout the region.

“Their adoption by the scheme reinforces how easy they are  to drive and how they epitomise all the benefits there are to switching from a van that is powered by a conventional diesel or petrol engine to one that is pure electric, all without having any impact on the operational effectiveness of a business.”

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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