Small businesses in County Durham are being invited to borrow an electric van, to experience for themselves the benefits of going green.
Durham County Council’s low carbon economy and fleet teams are offering short term loans of electric vans to small and medium sized businesses, to help reduce their carbon emissions and fuel costs.
The vans, which will be free to loan for up to three weeks, are being funded by the council as part of its response to the climate emergency.
The scheme aims to encourage smaller businesses to cut their carbon emissions, a task which they typically find more difficult than larger businesses, as they do not have the resources to employ specialist energy advisers.
Cllr Mark Wilkes, the council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “There are many small and medium sized businesses across the county who we know care passionately about their impact on the environment, and who would like to do more to reduce their fuel costs and emissions, but making the switch to an electric commercial vehicle can be daunting.
“The option to borrow a van gives businesses the perfect opportunity to find out more, and to see first-hand the fuel savings available, before they commit.”
Nala Engineers and Easylift Stairlifts were two of the first businesses to sign up for the trial.
Nicola Duke, director at Nala Engineers, said: “We are interested in moving to electric for our vehicle fleet. The opportunity to trial an electric van was a great idea as it gives us the opportunity to identify the advantages, without the financial commitment.
“It will also help us to target manufacturers and models in relation to range and size after we have tried one, and to understand how they will work for our business. We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint wherever possible and moving some or all of our fleet to electric will be a great next step.”
Lee McDonald, director at Easylift Stairlifts, said: “With the COP26 climate conference fresh in everyone’s mind, Durham County Council has provided a fantastic opportunity with the Try Before You Buy scheme, to ourselves and other businesses in County Durham, to trial an e-van.
“This gives us the option to trial an e-van within our existing fleet and during this period we can compare performance, range and compatibility alongside our existing business model. As a small business we take our responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint seriously and are looking at many ways to progress going forward.”
At the end of the loan scheme, the electric vans will be absorbed into the council’s own fleet, to replace older, less efficient vehicles.
To access the electric vehicle offer, businesses need to apply to the council’s Business Energy Efficiency Project, which can also help businesses to identify further energy efficiencies, resulting in reduced carbon emissions and financial savings.