Commercial EV project announced in UK

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The world’s biggest trial of commercial electric vehicles has been given the green light by energy regulator Ofgem

The three-year ‘Optimise Prime’ trial will bring together leading power, technology, fleet and transport companies to test and implement the best approaches to the EV rollout for commercial enterprises.

Commercial vehicle operators must overcome several obstacles before they adopt electric vehicles on a large scale – all the way from the up-front capital hurdle to managing charging times.

Led by Hitachi Vantara and UK Power Networks, the trial will see up to 3,000 electric vehicles from Centrica, Uber and a large UK depot-based parcel carrier take to the road in the second half of 2019.  The test area will include a range of urban, suburban and rural scenarios across the South East, South Central and East of England.

To help the wider industry prepare, the largest cross-industry datasets on commercial EV charging and use will be shared openly.

The project will deliver an end-to-end overview of what the switch to EVs means for the cables and substations that deliver electricity to the community, for the businesses that need to invest in new infrastructure, and for the end users that need to power their vehicles.

Using large, real-life datasets and Internet of Things technologies, the project will create a detailed picture of the demands of electric fleet and private hire vehicles.  This will make it possible to develop solutions that cut the cost of owning and running electric vehicles, such as charging EVs outside the electricity network’s peak times.

“For electric vehicles, it’s no longer a case of the tipping point, but the jumping point, because when large-scale commercial electric vehicle operators decide to switch from petrol or diesel to electric the impact will be instant,” Ian Cameron, the Head of Innovation at UK Power Networks, said.  “There’s incredible potential to improve the air quality of our towns and cities and we want to help that happen at the lowest possible cost to our customers.”