National Highways is continuing to super-charge its drive to cut carbon emissions with 307 state-of-the-art zero-emission and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) joining its fleet.
The new vehicles are set to cut around 250 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year and will be put into service over the coming months.
The new vehicles that modernise National Highways’ fleet include 31 fully electric zero-emission new Hyundai Kona across the country used for general maintenance and inspection pool cars and 65 ultra-low emission KIA Xceed Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) to replace some of our existing vehicles used to conduct structural surveys.
We have already introduced 187 ultra-low emissions PHEVs for traffic officer operations across the country currently, with another 24 on the way.
Maintenance and inspection vehicles allow staff to search for defects, monitoring the progress of ongoing maintenance activities and repairs, ensuring these have been completed to the correct standard whilst supporting our commitment to smooth and reliable journeys for our customers.
Similarly, the PHEVs for traffic officers provide 4×4 capability and support a target to clear 86 per cent of motorway incidents within one hour, whilst reducing the company’s carbon footprint from patrolling England’s motorways and major A-roads to help keep motorists safe.
Finally, the company has also introduced Kia Xceed PHEVs to replace some of its existing diesel vehicles used by teams to conduct surveys of gantries, bridges and other structures across the Strategic Road Network (SRN).
Steve Elderkin, Director of Environmental Sustainability for National Highways, said: “We are delighted to be modernising our fleet with the 307 state-of-the-art vehicles that will not only reduce our emissions but also ensure that journeys are smooth and reliable.
“As a company, we operate more than 1,300 vehicles so introducing so many new electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids really helps accelerate our journey to net zero, drastically cutting our emissions.
“Our net zero plan has laid out how we want to hit net zero for our own emissions by 2030, with a commitment that our non-traffic officer vehicles will be 100% electric by 2027 and traffic officer vehicles to be 100% electric by 2030.
“This is a huge step towards that commitment, and we will continue to invest in green and electric vehicles as the technology becomes available, meeting the Government’s Road to Zero strategy.”
Andy Butterfield, National Highways’ Operations Customer Service Director, added: “Our fleet supports the safe operation and ensures the network remains in a good condition. For instance, by helping us get to and clear incidents faster and keeping our roads free of defects.
“As part of this, our front-line operational teams provide a 24/7, 365 days a year service and play an integral part of our operation. These vehicles will not only withstand the rigours of the role but are also cost effective, versatile, reliable and greener.
“These vehicles will help ensure that the network can remain free-flowing and properly maintained while also significantly cutting our emissions as we drive towards net zero.”
The 283 vehicles already delivered – Volvo XC90, BMW X5 (PHEV), Hyundai Kona (ZEV) and Kia Xceed (PHEV) – will be rolled out across the network, including:
- 41 in Yorkshire, Humber and North East
- 37 in the North West
- 83 in the Midlands
- 45 in the East
- 48 in the South East
- 29 in the South West
The Volvo XC90 and BMW X5 have all been kitted out specifically for National Highways with enhanced storage capability, state-of-the-art lighting and distinctive livery, and will utilise an ancillary battery pack allowing the vehicles to run purely on electric or alongside the traditional combustion engine.
The vehicles will allow National Highways to manage its emissions more efficiently; day-to-day, shorter journeys that require less power can be completed purely on the electric battery, resulting in zero emissions.
This will not only reduce service, maintenance and repair costs dramatically but also the company’s carbon footprint.
David Spooner, Managing Director – Safeguard SVP Ltd, said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure & privilege working with The National Fleet Team to achieve our joint goal of providing converted vehicles that will provide the end user with Hybrid / Electric role converted vehicles which will enable them to carry out their roles now & into the future safely.
“The variation of vehicles that have been chosen for conversion have been challenging from an integration & conversion perspective, the team at Safeguard SVP Ltd have enjoyed the challenges presented by this project and look forward to working with The National Fleet Team in the future.”
The move to electric vehicles is among a host of measures National Highways is taking to improve air quality and tackle carbon emissions from road transport as the UK takes steps to become a zero-carbon economy by 2050.
In the plan, National Highways committed to the following actions:
- By 2027, 100% of non-traffic officer light vehicles will be electric, and by 2030 the traffic officer vehicles will also be electric. Traffic officer vehicles will become 100% electric 3 years after other vehicle because electric vehicles that meet the safety requirements required are not expected to be available in 2027. The company has also set an interim target of 75% of the fleet to be electric or hybrid by 2025. Its approach and speed of fleet changeover will be based on the market availability of suitable vehicles, the whole life greenhouse gas footprint of different fuel options and when existing vehicles reach the end of their leases
- Its fleet management team will seek annual reports from our suppliers on the availability of low carbon heavier vehicles such as gritters and snow blowers. It aims to have changed all of its gritter fleet over to hydrogen or electricity by 2040
- It will reduce the carbon footprint from other travel by using technology to introduce new ways of working. It will update its travel policy to discourage flying and incentivise low carbon travel options. In addition, it will update its expense policy to pay only for low carbon emission business travel (EV, Rail, and bus/coach) from 2026