Businesses in Bristol are set to enjoy free electric vehicle (EVs) loans thanks to a £3m grant from Highways England secured by Bristol City Council.
The £3.156m grant will go towards the council's plan to establish an Electric Vehicle (EV) Centre of Excellence with a new fleet of EVs.
The council's cabinet approved the funding this week for an initial two-year pilot of the EV Centre of Excellence, which will be housed within the council’s existing Fleet Services department at Sandy Park.
Implementation will start in the coming months, the council said.
The centre will provide local businesses and organisations with free loans of one of 64 EVs for up to two months.
It will also provide expert and impartial advice on the potential to convert to EVs, including charging requirements at available charging points, calculating reductions in pollution and fuel costs, and analysis of typical routes and distances to assess what vehicles are most appropriate to suit needs.
The guidance on offer will extend to tailored business cases for upgrading to EVs, including support for applying for grants to purchase things like charging points or vehicles.
The investment is also due to fund five new EV charge point hubs across the city - four public sites suited to commercial vehicles and one for taxis.
Mayor Marvin Rees said: 'I am delighted we have been able to secure this funding from Highways England, which will enable us to provide the support businesses and organisations need to start making the transition over to cleaner vehicles.
'It is vital we all work together as a city to reduce pollution and having an EV Centre of Excellence will allow us to provide confidence and experience across the city through expert advice and free vehicle loans. By removing some of the barriers and financial risks for businesses and organisations, we can help Bristol to emerge from the pandemic in a more inclusive and sustainable way.
'We must look at causes of pollution across the board, and as well as encouraging a shift to electric vehicles, we are also working hard to improve walking, cycling and public transport journeys in and around Bristol.'
Christopher Plumb, air quality specialist at Highways England, said: 'Over recent years we’ve made sure that over 95% of England’s motorways and major A-roads are within 20 miles of a rapid electric vehicle charging point. And over the next five years, we’ll be investing £411m to do more to protect and improve the environment around our roads.
'We’re excited to be supporting Bristol City Council as it encourages more businesses to make the switch to electric, and expect many more to start using electric vehicles when they see the savings possible.'