Philip Hammond MP, Secretary of State for Transport, today unveiled the first of British Gas' new fully electric and solar powered cars.
The two Nissan LEAFs will be used by staff at offices in Staines and Windsor. Both sites have solar-powered charging canopies, which will supply enough renewable electricity to cover the cars' fuel needs1.
The unveiling comes as British Gas announced its aim to have 1,000 electric vans being used by British Gas heating engineers by 2015, starting with 25 next year.
Electric cars are expected to become commonplace on British roads. Experts predict that by 2020, electric vehicles could account for approximately 10 percent of all car sales with roughly 325,000 sold in the UK each year. This will add up to roughly 1.5 million electric cars on Britain's roads by 2020 - five percent of all cars2.
British Gas has been working hard to help build the electric car market in Britain. The energy supplier is the preferred installer of electric car charge points for both Nissan and Renault - deals which mean that British Gas will be preferred supplier to 70% of the electric car market in 20123. British Gas was also the first supplier to announce the detail of a tariff specifically designed for electric car owners which will see drivers pay as little as 1.25p a mile to fuel their car4.
The solar canopies are part of a bigger programme of low carbon projects within British Gas. Last year, British Gas installed solar thermal panels on three of its buildings. This year it plans to complete seven similar projects across five British Gas sites. This is part of the company's plan to cut its UK carbon footprint by 25% by 20155.
Speaking at the unveiling, Philip Hammond MP, Secretary of State for Transport, said:
"I commend British Gas for this excellent initiative. It is an outstanding example of private enterprise helping to promote low emission vehicle technology.
"A low carbon future is the only viable future for transport. But we must acknowledge that it is carbon, not the car, which is the problem. The Government is doing its bit by providing grants towards the purchase of low emission vehicles and increasing charging points across the county.
"Working together I am confident that we can make Britain a global leader in the use of electric and other ultra-low emission cars and at the forefront of efforts to decarbonise motoring."
Phil Bentley, Managing Director of British Gas, said:
"The world of energy is changing and British Gas is at the forefront of this revolution. That's why we're leading the way in providing the energy services that motorists with electric cars need including energy tariffs, car charging points, solar panels and smart meters."
Steve McLennan, Marketing Director, Nissan Motor GB Ltd, who also attended the unveiling, said:
"The Nissan LEAF is pioneering the electric car revolution in the UK for homes and businesses alike. LEAF owners will be ‘filling up' with cheaper, cleaner fuel with many drivers, like British Gas, taking advantage of clean solar energy to power their car."
Notes to Editors
(1)Two cars doing an annual average of 8000 miles each will need 3840 KWh, based on the distance available after one full charge per day of 100 miles. The powerpark will produce 2700KWh, one canopy will cover 70% of the fuel costs for both cars. There are solar canopies at both the Windsor and Staines British Gas sites meaning that both cars can have their fuel covered by solar charging
(2) Figures taken from Frost and Sullivan (2011), commissioned by British Gas
(3) According to research by Market Gravity, 2011, calculated based on projections of car manufacturers' EV market share
(4) Figures based on British Gas calculations using average UK standard Economy 7 night rate, 100 mile charge range, 95% charging efficiency. The £1200 was based on a comparison with a 1.6l car comparing the annual cost of fuel for 10000 miles. The LEAF will cost 1.25p per mile - so £125 for the year compared to 15p a mile for the petrol car (£1463 per year). The calculation assumes 42.2 miles to the gallon and petrol costs of 135.8p a litre. For the standard petrol car, a 50l tank gives 464 miles. A Nissan LEAF can do up to 110 miles per full charge (costing £1.25) so needs to do 4.64 charges to replicate the 50l tank costing £5.80 (or £6 rounded up). Changes in driving style, use of radio and air conditioning, and terrain will affect driving and charge range
(5) The company aims to reduce its UK internal carbon footprint (property, company vehicles and travel) of its existing business by 25% by 2015 (baseline is 2007).
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