An Electric City

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A recurring topic at Mayor’s Question Time is the Quality of London’s Air. The threat of EU penalties hangs over the City as a result of the failure to meet emissions standards. London Assembly member, Darren Johnson representing the Green Party raises the issue at every opportunity.


Esther Alarcon, writing in World Wise Resources, reports that Transport for London have added four Mitsubishi i-MiEVs ((innovative Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle) to its fleet as a part of the Mayor’s programme to make London the electrical vehicle capital of Europe. The i-MiEVs, part funded through the Government’s Low Carbon Procurement Partnership (LCVPP), are the first step to achieving the 1,000 electric vehicles that the Mayor aspires to bring to London’s city’s streets by 2015.

Most of the 1,000 electrical vehicles for the GLA fleet will be utilized by the Metropolitan Police Service. TfL intends to acquire up to 120 electrical vehicles by 2015.

Increasing the number of fleet vehicles is one element of the Mayor’s programs to increase electrical vehicle amounts to 100,000 by 2020. The increase of zero tailpipe-emission electric vehicles will enhance air quality and cut climate change emissions, and as the price tag on gas and diesel continues to rise they have significantly lower operating expenses which include exemption from the Congestion Cost. In May 2010 the Mayor published his “Electric Vehicle Delivery Plan for London” as part of the Mayoral Transport Strategy. 1,600 charge points are to be set up all over the Capital with numbers rising to 7,500 by 2013 and 25,000 by 2015. It will be interesting to see whether the Assembly begin to table questions to the Mayor asking for current totals on a regular basis so that we can all keep score. BY 2015, with 2,500 charge points installed in publicly accessible areas, no Londoner should be further than a mile from any charge point. An initiative is to be launched so that drivers will be able to clearly identify places where charging is available. This will be supported by a new website offering a one-stop outlet of knowledge on electric automobiles and charging points. A London-wide membership plan will also be released to enable drivers gain access to charge points across the Capital; currently electric car drivers must register in every borough they charge up in.

It is estimated that 100,000 electric powered vehicles can reduce London’s carbon output by almost 500,000 tonnes over the following decade and also save 100 tonnes of NOx pollutants and several tonnes of PM10 by-products. That is comparable to three hundred million car trips. This is based on the assumption that the average everyday vehicle mileage in London is 15km, with the cars executing normally a return journey and that the particular 100,000 electric automobiles would take the place of 100,000 diesel or gas automobiles currently in use.

The new infrastructure as well as the additional electric automobiles on London’s streets will help to motivate Londoners to use a more environmentally friendly private transport and help support the Mayor’s goal to chop London’s CO2 by 60% by 2025.

In March 2010, TfL put a notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) to put in place the UK’s biggest procurement framework for electric powered road vehicles. A different framework was also advertised by TfL for the purchase of charging infrastructure. The purchase of up to 1,000 electrical vehicles for the GLA family, is envisaged whilst as many as 300 cars may be purchased by some other agencies, predominantly UK local authorities.

The next step – an electric freight system for London?

For some of our older readers familiar with the Trolleybuses the idea of electric vehicles in London is nothing new. However, there still exists, although in a more restricted form than, hitherto an extensive electric freight system offering door-to-door delivery.

Our thanks and copyright acknowledgements to flickrist Ronald Hackston for this breath of nostalgia showing a Unigate electric Milk Float making its way up Thornton Road in Streatham Hill in 2006. Unigate was the product of a merger between United and Cow and Gate Dairies, the latter being more famous as the suppliers of baby milk to the baby boom generation. The only thing missing by then was the characteristic dawn chorus chatter of glass bottles in metal crates. My first summer job was as a milkman. I learnt to drive on one of these vehicles and in so doing secured my first driving licence endorsement but that is, as they say, another story.

Over the years milk persons have adapted to changing conditions most notably the growth of supermarkets. They have increased their product range. The situation has now developed to the point that the large supermarket chains; Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose, (in partnership with Ocado), now routinely offer home delivery as an added value service. It is estimated that by saving shoppers a trip to the supermarket, a significant reduction in the number of cars on the road can be achieved with knock on environmental benefits. Ocado claim that their delivery van can replace up to 40 car journeys every single day. These retailers, together with other city logistics suppliers such as UPS, Fedex and Royal Mail are potential allies that the Mayor is cultivating in developing the critical mass needed to sustain the push to electric vehicles.

And finally , something soothing at bed-time. For the milkaholics in our community, London RIP has an interesting article here.

Written by Mwmbwls