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Sheffield businesses urged to try out electric vans for free

Sheffield Council are offering businesses the chance to try out one of 30 zero-emission vans, as it's revealed that commercial vehicles make up 25% of harmful emissions in the city.

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Businesses can try out one of 30 electric vans for free.

Sheffield City Council.

Sheffield City Council are offering local businesses, charities and organisations who currently run a diesel van the opportunity to try out an electric vehicle for free.

30 vans are available for two months each in a project jointly funded by the Council and Highways England.

Commercial vehicles make up 13% of vehicles on the road, but contribute over a quarter of harmful emissions in Sheffield.

“Transporting food, medicine and other goods is vital but requires a lot of energy," said Douglas Johnson, Green Party cabinet member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport.

"Currently, most of this is powered by fossil fuels. If we want to reduce air pollution and tackle the climate emergency, we need to help Sheffield find alternatives."

The scheme is only open to businesses who operate in Sheffield with at least one diesel van of class N1 or above, and who do not already run an electric van.

Businesses will need to pay a refundable deposit and provide their own insurance throughout the two-month trial.

The Council hope the trial will help challenge 'range anxiety' – concerns about how far electric vehicles can be driven before they need to be recharged.

Dozens of rapid chargers for electric vehicles have been installed across the city, with another nine due to come online this summer. The chargers can fill a battery to 80% in 45 minutes, and are 50% cheaper than using fossil fuels.

A similar scheme this summer will allow local taxi drivers to trial one of eleven electric taxis for two weeks, with dedicated charging points in the city centre.

Like most British cities, Sheffield has been in breach of legal limits for nitrogen dioxide since January 2010, and air pollution contributes to an estimated 500 deaths a year in the city.

The Council say that plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone, which would see the most dangerous commercial vehicles charged for entering the city centre, are still under review, with no date set for introduction. Under the most recent proposals, private cars would be exempt from the charge.

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The Nissan e-NV200s loaned by Sheffield City Council have a range of 124-187 miles.

Sheffield City Council.

Birmingham introduced their own Clean Air Zone (including private cars) on 1 June, while Manchester have set a goal of May 2022 for their own scheme which excludes private cars.

If a Clean Air Zone is introduced, many diesel vans will be liable to pay a charge but electric vehicles like the ones in the trial will be exempt.

"I recognise this can be a big challenge for many small businesses," said Cllr Douglas, on the move to electric vehicles.

"We’ve already helped 26 businesses invest in electric cargo bikes for small deliveries, and this trial will help give local businesses confidence to invest in an electric van.”

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