Drive to Zero is Northgate’s program to help fleets move to electric vans.

Drive to Zero is Northgate’s program to help fleets move to electric vans.

Photo: Northgate Vehicle Hire

THE UK’s largest van rental firm, Northgate Vehicle Hire, is ramping up its electrification program for customers. Called Drive to Zero, the company outlines the steps fleets need to take in order to decarbonize operations.

Specializing in flexible and minimum-term-hire rentals through its 67 UK locations, Northgate’s customers are drawn from large corporate fleets down to small businesses.

Whatever the size of fleet, however, sales and marketing director Neil McCrossan, said:

“In line with the Government’s deadline for internal combustion vehicle sales ending in 2030, Northgate has been committed to ensuring that our customers are fully supported by us in advance of this. We understand that for businesses, a lack of interruption is key while undergoing any fleet transition, and electrification is no different. We have launched Drive to Zero in order to make this transition as seamless and efficient as possible.”

McCrossan says there are five elements to its electrification program to ensure operational uptime is not compromised.

First off is a fleet analysis assessing EV suitability for transition. Through the interrogation of telematics data, Northgate looks to build a complete understanding of vehicles, their movements, distances traveled and journey times. This provides visuals on which vehicles can be switched immediately to electric without issue and which ones will come on-stream as higher range electric LCVs are launched over the coming years by OEMs.

Second is managing fleet vehicle choice, whether the requirement is for a final mile vehicle such as the Renault Zoe commercial hatchback, thru a mid-sized panel van to a larger van such as the Mercedes-Benz e-Sprinter.

Third is the provision of driver training which is required to help drivers adapt to the new driving techniques required for electric vans, including optimization of EV range.

Fourth is providing suitable charging infrastructure around whether a customer requires workplace charging, home charging or needs to use public charging facilities.

Finally, Northgate says its team of independent EV fleet specialists can help fleets develop and implement robust transition plans, allowing fleets to focus on their core business, while Northgate focuses on running their vehicles.

Northgate is currently offering fleets the choice of five electric commercials to hire, but expects to onboard more as they become more widely available.

These are:

  • Renault Zoe Hatchback Van
  • Peugeot e-Expert
  • Volkswagen ABT E-Transporter
  • Mercedes-Benz e-Vito
  • Mercedes-Benz e-Sprinter

McCrossan  added: “The end of diesel vans is clearly not an ‘if’ but a ‘when’. Outside of specialist and heavier vehicles, the replacement will almost certainly be electric. Some businesses will see immediate benefits from introducing them to their fleet mix. Businesses should now evaluate the suitability of zero-emission vehicles for their fleet and make strategic plans for the phasing out of diesel vans.”