British Gas has put in the largest ever commercial order for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the UK.
The utility has ordered 1,000 all-electric Vivaro-e vans from Vauxhall, which will be delivered over the next 12 months and rolled out across the country.
It forms part of the company’s push to electrify its 12,000 strong fleet of vehicles by 2030.
Matthew Bateman, managing director of British Gas, said: "Our engineers and their vans are part of the local community they serve and it’s important we reduce the emissions of our vans so that we are contributing towards better air quality in their area and the environment.
“We are committed to the transition to electric vehicles which involves changing our fleet as well as helping consumers and businesses with charge points and infrastructure.
"We chose to work with Vauxhall as they were able to give us a large number of high-quality and low emission vans to help us effectively serve our customers – and they will also work with us on future EV solutions. Transport is a key area where we can improve carbon emissions and is an important part of our strategy to meet our net zero targets."
Engineers will be chosen from a list of volunteers to receive the new electric vans, targeting key areas where it is important to lower emissions. Chargers will be fitted at their homes by British Gas engineers, with a push from the company currently underway to upskill engineers so they can install chargers and accelerate EV adoption for homes and businesses.
British Gas has said that it will order more Vauxhall vehicles as they become available, which may include the all-electric Combo-e when it is launched next summer.
Stephen Norman, Managing Director, Vauxhall Motors said he was delighted to confirm British Gas had placed the UK’s largest ever order of BEVs.
“As the oldest British vehicle Brand since 1903, I want to thank British Gas, a fellow British business, for their loyalty and trust in Vauxhall. As with all businesses up and down the country, tradespeople rely on their van as an essential tool of their work and our 300-strong Retailer network is crucial in continuing to provide support to carry British business.
“The strength of the quantity of orders for our all-electric van demonstrates that the Vauxhall Vivaro-e, the first step in the electrification of our entire van range, can contribute towards the transition towards low emissions vehicles whilst improving air quality."
The number of BEVs on the roads has continued to grow, with sales increasing a colossal 261.8% in June 2020 compared to the same month in 2019. In April, BEVs scooped 32% of the vehicle market as sales overall dropped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Petrol and diesel car sales are set to be banned in the UK in 2035, in an effort to decarbonise transport, leading to a push by companies to switch to EVs with nearly 50% targeting onsite charging already.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps welcomed British Gas’s commitment, saying: "Today’s announcement marks another milestone as we continue on the road to a green transport recovery. This is a huge step for such an iconic British company, who are showing leadership in making the switch to zero emission vehicles as we to strive to meet net zero emissions by 2050.
“We’re determined to build back greener – to deliver better air quality and lower our carbon footprint, which is why we’re investing more than ever in zero emission grants and infrastructure."
Centrica – British Gas’s parent company – has launched a number of partnerships to cement its role in the EV sector, including with car manufacturer Lotus. In May, the two announced their new partnership would “really push the boundaries of what electric vehicle ownership could be”.