‘Try before you buy’ EV scheme coming to UK cities

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
DriveElectric ULEV Experience NHS Nissan e-NV200

A ‘try before you buy‘ scheme for electric vehicles (EVs) could ‘act as a blueprint’ for cities across the UK. That’s according to the company behind a successful trial in Nottingham.

As part of the project, local businesses and public sector organisations were given chance to experience an electric car or van for up to 30 days. Organisations were offered the opportunity to drive a fleet of EVs including the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro.

In total, 52 organisations have experienced 72 electric car loans over the past 18 months. The result is that 20 electric vehicles have been adopted to date.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust trialled the electric Renault Kangoo and Nissan e-NV200 for a month, with the Nissan well received by the organisation. The Trust now operates two e-NV200s, but there’s a potential to add a further 40 electric vans to the fleet.

The scheme was piloted by the Nottingham ULEV Experience project and financed through Nottingham City Council’s Go Ultra Low funding. Leasing company DriveElectric supplied the electric vehicles.

Similar schemes could be rolled out in other cities, particularly those operating Clean Air Zones (CAZ) to improve air quality. The Leeds CAZ will go live in September, with the Birmingham CAZ expected to launch in July.

Budget bonus for EVs

Electric cars could save drivers £40,000

At the recent Budget, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the government will provide £403 million for the Plug-in Car Grant, extending the scheme to 2022-2023. A further £129.5 million will be provided to extend the grant for vans, taxis and motorcycles.

However, the grant itself has been cut from £3,500 to £3,000, with cars costing £50,000 or more ineligible for the grant.

The Plug-in Van Grant also continues, providing up to a maximum of £8,000 off the price of a plug-in van, and there’s up to £20,000 off the price of large vans and trucks.

Meanwhile, exemption of Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax), for zero emission electric vehicles will continue. What’s more, they are also exempt from the ‘expensive car’ first-year supplement for vehicles costing over £40,000.

‘Need to experience electric’

Mike Potter, managing director of DriveElectric, said: “Most organisations need to experience electric vehicles before making a decision to purchase. Fully-funded month-long EV loans are not readily available through dealerships, manufacturers or any other source.

“Therefore the ‘try before you buy’ EV loans provided by the ULEV Experience have been extremely valuable in filling a gap in the market not offered elsewhere.”

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