New scheme aims to drive emissions to zero with free trials of electric vehicles for businesses in Leeds

Leeds is to continue building on the surging popularity of electric vehicles in the city by offering local businesses the chance to trial a range of electric vehicles (EVs) from Spring 2019.

Leeds City Council is partnering with Highways England to offer businesses the chance to trial electric vans and cars for a free two month period to get a better understanding of the benefits and how electric vehicles could work for their businesses going forward.

The scheme will enable the city to continue to put a focus on electric technology and its benefits after recent news that Leeds has experienced the highest growth of electric vehicles yet in 2017/18, with a 48% growth compared to the previous year.

Highways England will invest £2 million into the project with a further £900,000 investment from Leeds City Council via a government grant to allow the scheme to run for an initial two years.

Vans will form the majority of the new electric fleet, made up of around 70 vehicles available to loan.

As well as vans, the fleet will also include a number of electric car models suitable for use as Leeds-licensed private hire and taxi vehicles.

Each vehicle will also be fitted with a device that provides detailed journey and charging data, helping companies understand how they’ve used the vehicle and, with impartial expert support, help them to make an informed decision about whether to purchase one (or more) for their own fleet.

At a meeting of the council’s executive board next week (13 February 2019) council chiefs will be asked to approve the procurement of the new vehicles as well as plans for an alternative fuel strategy for the city, which includes plans to retrofit four of the council’s refuse collection vehicles.


Cllr James Lewis, Leeds City Council executive board member with resonspibility for resources and sustainability said:

It is great news to be able to offer local businesses the chance to try out electric vehicles for free and really see how they could work and potentially save them money in the future.

“Electric vehicles have progressed hugely in recent years - not only do they create no exhaust emissions, they are also much cheaper to fuel and maintain than a traditional diesel. Along with an increasingly robust network of public chargers in Leeds, electric vehicles are now becoming a very viable option for more businesses.

“Last year, Leeds City Council were also one of 16 organisations to sign the Clean Van Commitment to collectively invest £40 million in electric vans over two years. That commitment aims to kick start the replacement of the UK's four million diesel vans.


Ivan Le Fevre, Highways England’s Head of Environment said:

“We are excited to be supporting Leeds City Council with its plans to encourage more businesses to try out electric vehicles. These trials allow organisations to see how it can be viable and cost effective for their specific operations, and at the same time to do their bit to help improve air quality.

“This funding has been provided as part of our designated fund to deliver improved air quality on our motorways and major A roads. This commitment will see us investing up to £75m of investment through to the end of March 2020, as set out in government’s Road Investment Strategy.

“We are committed to helping improve the nation’s air quality and aim to ensure 95% of our roads are within 20 miles of a rapid electric vehicle charging point and are looking ahead to meet the future demand so that queuing times are minimised.”


For further information you can read the full executive board report at;



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Chad Newton

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Tel: 01133 789849


Notes to editors:

  • The council is currently developing an alternative fuel strategy that aims to set a vision for the city as a low emission centre over the short, medium and long term. The strategy aims to identify how the city can look towards wider adoption of zero and lower emission vehicles, sets out the council’s role in facilitating this and how ultra-low emission vehicles need to be seen as part of the wider transport strategy.
  • The council currently has over 100 charge points to support its fleet of electric vehicles and 38 publically available slow chargers spread across the two park and ride sites and Woodhouse car park as well as a rapid charger located at the Elland Road park and ride site. This will be supplemented by 30 rapid chargers by March 2020 in Leeds through an OLEV funded project, plus additional charge points to be delivered through CAZ ‘Early Measures funding’ across council sites and a larger provision of points at the planned Stourton Park & Ride.
  • As part of showcasing the benefits of electric technology to the city – the council will also be procuring 25 E-bikes for the use of both staff and businesses to trial.


Let's clear a few things up


Cyclists and pedestrians are exposed to more air pollution than drivers


Wrong. As well as being better for your health and fitness, evidence shows that cyclists and pedestrians are also less exposed to air pollution than people in vehicles. This is because your air filter probably doesn’t remove pollution from the air it circulates and being on the road itself means that your vehicles is surrounded by exhaust fumes. Pedestrians and cyclists are also less exposed because even 1 metre away from traffic, there is considerably less pollution than on the road itself.


Turning your engine on and off again whilst sat in traffic releases more emissions than leaving it running.


Whether you’re stuck in traffic or just waiting to pick someone up, if you think that your car might be stationary for more than 2 minutes it’s better to turn your engine off than leave it running. Doing so will reduce the amount of gases harmful to our health and the environment that your car emits. It’s an easy way to reduce your own contribution to air pollution!


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