SSEN’s electric vans are helping the drive towards net zero

Switching to electric vehicles (EV) is one of the ways we can help the UK meet its net zero targets, and as part of the move to decarbonise its fleet in line with the SSE Group’s EV100 commitment, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has been trialling the Nissan ENV200 electric van with staff across a variety of roles and locations. 

If this trial period is successful, the EVs will be rolled out more widely across SSEN, so as well as serving communities across the north of Scotland and central southern England, the vans will also be helping the UK’s drive towards its green targets at the same time.

One of SSEN’s EV triallists is Ken Locke from the Inverness Tree-cutting team.

“I got the van in February, about a month before lockdown”, explains Ken, “the day it was delivered was also the first time I’d ever been inside an EV, far less driven one, so I was really excited to be taking part in this trial. 

The vehicles will be closely monitored to allow a better understanding of EV-specific factors including: range anxiety for people whose job involves driving all day, the ease of home charging, the availability of rapid charge points, and overall performance in challenging and remote conditions; all of these categories make Ken an ideal triallist, as his job takes him to some of the most remote areas the country has to offer.

The range from a full charge on the Nissan ENV200 is 160 miles, which seems a lot, but when you factor in that Ken is part of the tree-cutting team that covers the Highlands and Islands (and all the remote and mountainous images that this conjures up), you soon realise that 160 miles can be used up quicker than first thought.

Ken says that working with his Nissan is very similar to a traditional vehicle,  but it can be bizarre without the noise, adding:

“The speed is similar to my previous van, but it does pick up quicker as there is no lag between pedal and engine, and a real plus is that the storage space is better in the Nissan. 

“You also need to be mindful of what we’d traditionally call “Mpg” but in the case of the EV is “Mpc” (Miles per Charge), as factors such as loaded weight, outside temperature, internal devices such as heating/air con, Bluetooth connection, even wind direction can all have an effect on mileage.”

Although he’s been based at home and not working out of the Inverness depot during lockdown, the reaction from Ken’s colleagues in the early days of the trial was a positive one. When out on the road as part of his tree-cutting role, Ken says there’s also been a few curious comments from customers:

“Although we’re in challenging times just now, and here at SSEN we have our own very strict safety and hygiene measures in place to help combat the coronavirus, I’ve still had a few socially-distanced chats with customers whose properties I’ve been working at over the past few months. Most comment that they didn’t hear me coming up the drive!

“Once I explain that the reason my van is so quiet because it’s fully electric, then the questions about range and speed begin, usually followed up with a “how do you plug it in?” Eventually they ask if they can see under the bonnet, which I’m able to do as long as I explain the social distancing guidelines and they view from afar.”

To watch a short video which we shot on the day Ken took delivery of his EV, please click on the above image.

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.8 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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