Hull City Council wanted to embark on a journey to make a difference understanding how what we do impacts on the environment. Transport is now the largest emitter of greenhouse gases so by gradually switching our fleet to electric makes a real impact on tracking climate change. Our project is about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our impact on climate change.
Our mission started with reviewing our existing fleet of 300 vehicles and how they were used. This is an ongoing review reflecting the changing nature of a modern fleet. We set a realistic target to reducing all vehicles under 3.5 tonne (Which makes up the majority of the fleet) fully electric (BEV) by 2025. Today, we have 34 BEV in the fleet. But is it not just about new vehicles. How can the existing fleet work better? We have developed and introduced pool vehicles scheduling when vehicles are required.
Being flexible is important because the needs of service users changes. We communicated that a vehicle is not just about travel and has a wider impact on the planet. That by switching to electric vehicles we could all make a difference and reduce climate emissions as well as improving air quality. Engaging and complimenting staff is important. They are part of the solution and more than just a driver or passenger. They can make a difference. We communicated that the wider benefits and listened to service user needs which guided us on providing the right level of service to the customer. Some clients needed charge points on specific sites where as others could use one of two hubs. To give greater flexibility we gave a dedicated fob for each vehicle which not only tracks when vehicles are charged but where. The process was made simple and user friendly.
Along the way we learned from other local authorities experiences and took advice from The Energy Saving Trust.
Start with setting a clear plan and objective that is deliverable and progressive. Explain what you want to do and why. Consult and engage with staff and elected members so that they understand the benefit of what you want to achieve and why. For us this started with declaring a climate emergency in 2019 then setting out clear goals in our climate change strategy in 2020.
Then we looked at how this could achieve other objectives such as tackling air quality and operating efficiency. For us the switch to electric vehicles made sense. Most fleet operate in a relatively small geographical area with limited daily mileage. Most fleet returns to a depot daily so charging is straightforward. The project is essentially cost neutral. Whilst electric vehicles are most expensive they are cheaper to operate and last longer than petrol and diesel vehicles.
We communicated the benefits and took time to work with service areas to communicate what we wanted to achieve and how they were an important part of this. This was especially important with staff as many had never driven an electric vehicle before. We listened to experiences and made adjustments if necessary. Charging is always a consideration for electric vehicles so we made it easy for staff by installing charge points at local depots and issuing dedicated fobs. Simple, straightforward. Staff became advocates and champions of electric vehicles and felt apart of the process. This is an open process where staff are encouraged to feed back to a single point of contact.
Staff are proud that they are doing their bit to help the environment and have embraced this new technology.