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Viridian Housing introduces electric vans for DLO team in London

Viridian Housing has invested in electric vans for its direct labour operative (DLO) team.


Called the Env200, the automatic Nissan vans, which are 100 per cent electric and can travel up to 86 miles when fully charged, are expected to save the organisation thousands of pounds as well as benefitting the environment.


Viridian is currently using two of the vans in London, which has been found to be one of the most air polluted places in Europe. Using the vans in the city means there’s no congestion charge, and there’s even a discount for parking in some boroughs. There’s no hefty diesel bill either; a full charge for an electric van costs around £3.80.


Brody Isaac, sustainability manager at Viridian, said: “Viridian is committed to driving down our fleet’s carbon emissions and running costs.


“The Environment Team currently reports on its carbon emissions, with the target of reducing it by 10 per cent from the previous year and we are confident this will be met with the addition of our new vans.”


It was the electricians at Viridian who were the first to volunteer to get behind the wheel and Scott Cloud, from Orpington, currently uses one of the vans to get between his home and jobs in South London.


He said: “I think electric vehicles are the future so I was really keen to give the vans a go.


“The first thing that I really had to get used to was how quiet it is. Unlike a normal van, there is no rumble from the engine.


“You can’t hear it coming down the street and that was quite worrying because I wasn’t sure whether pedestrians would be aware of me and just step out into the road.


“Thankfully it has a sensor so it actually beeps if it anyone gets close to it; that’s turned quite a few heads. The van certainly attracts a lot of attention, sometimes I think I’ve got something on my face because so many people stop to look.”


Scott drives an average of 40 miles a day – and spends up to seven hours every night, charging it through a normal plug socket at his home. There are also charging points at Viridian properties throughout London.


An annual card, bought through Source London for £5, means he can also use charge points in the city if the van is ever low.


He said: “I do have to plan my day around the charging of the van. I charge it over night and I try and do a bit in the day when I’m doing my paperwork.


“My eye is constantly on the dashboard to check how much power I’ve got. Using anything electric in the van will affect the charge.


“You can only really do about 86 miles on one charge, which is fine for me because I’m just running about in London. When I’m in the city, I’m never really driving much faster than 50 miles per hour but it is quite nippy when you get it on to the bigger roads.


“Thankfully, I’ve never been left stranded before – there are enough charge points around London – even in supermarket car parks.  My satnav shows me where they all are, and if anyone’s using them.


“There’s also an option for a super charge – this gives you between 80 per cent and 100 per cent charge within an hour.


“If you do completely run out, which is unlikely with my mileage,  it doesn’t completely conk out either; it goes into ‘creep’ mode so you can try and get to a safe place to park it.”


There are still some on Viridian’s DLO team who are yet to be convinced by the vans, but Cloud is hoping to change attitudes.


He added: “I think there will be a day when all petrol and diesel vehicles are phased out – it’s probably still quite a way off but it’ll happen. It’s the future and I think we should all embrace it.”


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