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Watch for more ‘little green vans’ on London streets

plan-a-vanLondon Mayor Boris Johnson said today that some of London’s largest fleet operators — which are already using electric vehicles on the capital’s streets — have signed up with work with City Hall to share their experiences and help other organisations to do the same.

Participating companies include DHL Supply Chain, TNT Express, Go-Ahead London, UPS, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Speedy.

Although electric cars are several years from being widely available, electric vehicles that form company fleets such as heavy goods vehicles, vans and minibuses, are already widely available to buy at a competitive commercial rate. An estimated 500 of these vehicles are already on UK streets. Benefits of electric vehicles include lower fuel bills and an exemption from the congestion charge. They also help to improve air quality, reduce climate change emissions and cut noise pollution.

Johnson has already announced ambitious plans to make London the electric vehicle capital of Europe by pledging to deliver 25,000 charging points to form an integrated network across London by 2015. He also wants to add 1,000 electric vehicles to the Greater London Area fleet and guarantee to retain the congestion charge exemption.

“Not only do electric vehicles save a large sum off fuel bills, helping businesses to remain lean in tough economic times, they are also great for London’s environment,” Johnson said. “We are now going to work hand in hand with fleet owners to accelerate the take-up of electric vehicles, which are available to buy right now. This is a key element of my plan for London to become the electric capital of Europe, so now is the time for other companies to join us on this eco-mission.”

“Finding greener forms of transport is one of the key aims of Plan A, our five-year, one-hundred-point sustainability plan,” said Richard Gillies, director of Plan A and sustainable business for Marks and Spencer

Added Jat Sahota, Sainsbury’s head of corporate responsibility, “Showing respect for the environment is one of our key values, which is why we have just placed an order for 50 brand new electric vans. This will allow us to deliver to the majority of our customers in central London in an environmentally responsible way. We believe this to be the largest order of its kind by a UK retailer. We are committed to using electric vehicles wherever possible, so customers can expect to see more and more of our ‘little green vans’ appearing on roads across the UK over the coming months and years.”

This afternoon, Johnson was scheduled to greet the Brighton-to-London Revolve eco-rally, which will finish its course outside City Hall for the first time — the eco-rally includes a range of innovative vehicles such as the Tesla. He is also expected to reveal the WhatCar? 2009 Green Car of the Year at a ceremony in City Hall.

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