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The next six months of van driving for some 28 British Gas engineers will be a bit different from what they are used to. How so? Each of the engineers will be driving an electric van from Nissan. In the first-ever trial looking at the viability of commercial electric vans in the UK, the Nissan e-NV200 will take centre stage.

The pilot program is a joint effort between Nissan, British Gas, Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions, and Gateshead College. The 28 electric vans are but a drop in the ocean for the British Gas fleet of 13,000, but they will provide important data that will help determine whether the vehicles are ready for mainstream commercial use.

A similar pilot programme is set to get underway in Barcelona next year. The main difference is that the Spanish vehicles will be used for taxi service rather than utility service. As for British Gas, they have set a goal to convert at least 10% of their van fleet to electric vehicles by 2015. Participating in the pilot study is a step in that direction.

According to a spokesperson from Gateshead College, the British Gas business model provides a perfect test scenario for the Nissan e-NV200. The driving patterns of British Gas engineers make it possible to accomplish an entire day’s driving on just a single charge. If all goes as planned, the pilot programme will demonstrate that the vehicles are the perfect low emissions solution for low mileage city driving.

Once the pilot is complete Nissan engineers will look at the feedback data in order to make any changes necessary to the vehicles. They intend for the e-NV200 to be an all-weather vehicle that customers can use throughout the year, which is one of the reasons they chose the winter months to begin the British trial.

No Changes to Training

At this time, the HGV Training Centre does not anticipate the need to make any changes to its van driving training to accommodate electric vehicles. While there may be some details to learn about individual electric vans, nothing changes in terms of general highway safety and the rules of the road. Should the adoption of electric vehicles eventually require additional training, it will be considered at that time.

In addition to training for van driving, the HGV Training Centre offers comprehensive training for tipper trucks, articulated lorries, box trucks, buses, coaches, horseboxes and horsebox trailers, forklifts and more. All of our training is provided by dedicated and experienced staff members who are thoroughly versed in all issues of highway safety and traffic law.

What’s more, we provide more than just practical skills training. We also help our students compile and prepare their paperwork, prepare to take and pass the theory test when appropriate, and send a driving trainer with the student to the test site for the final practical skills test. The amount of support we provide throughout the entire process is second to none.

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