Low-carbon postage: one more happy EV driver?

By Gary Hartley

I’ll be honest – Post & Parcel magazine isn’t generally the first stop when I’m searching for new blog material. But on this occasion, it’s come up trumps with news about the French postal service warming up to electric vehicles considerably with an order for 10,000 of them (Renault Kagoo ZE’s to be specific).

We’re interested in how households and companies get about – and we’re aware that there are quite a few issues to consider when investing in electric vehicles, which is why we produced our Living with an electric car series of videos.

One of the prime considerations is battery price. There have been some scare stories in the news citing very high costs for replacing them, and while these are often exaggerated, and of course it’s not an expense you’re going to be making very often, no-one’s saying they’re cheap at present.

This considered, it’s interesting to see firms tackling this issue head on by not selling the batteries with the vehicle at all. As strange as it sounds, that actually seems to be one of the main reasons why La Poste has bought into the idea – as well as the government backing, of course.

But that’s not to say they’re investing in pretty shells that they power in the style of the Flintstones. The battery is leased to the buyer, meaning a much lower up-front cost to pay. As we all know, especially in the age we find ourselves in now, the ticket price of anything means quite a bit.

It seems Renault are the leaders in the field of not flogging batteries with their electric vehicles – a recent laudatory review of their Fluence ZE in the Guardian first drew attention to the borrow-not-buy approach, and although the writer concedes that despite his best efforts he wouldn’t be converting Clarkson anytime soon, it does seem like for those companies and individuals open to an electric future and with long-term economics in mind, the right way could be the hire way.

Batteries are guaranteed at high efficiency as they’re loaned out in tip-top condition, but for those still worried about the overall electric vehicle experience, including the roadside assistance synonymous with motoring generally, mobile charging is slowly but surely rolling out. So even if you start your electric adventure at more than half empty for no apparent reason, rescue will be on hand.

Here at the Energy Saving Trust, we work with businesses of all sizes, finding innovative ways to cut their fleet costs and emissions – so if Royal Mail seek to follow their French counterparts’ lead, we’re awaiting the call.

And let’s not forget that technological advancement has to be coupled with personal changes. Our intrepid blogger Richard Allen’s report on his smarter driving training a gives you a flavour of the simple things the carbon-caning boy or girl racer can do to tighten his/ her belt.