Electric cars might not be very popular among regular folk, but they're becoming increasingly popular in the commercial world. We've already seen seen Nissan Leafs used as police cars and taxis, and they -- along with an assortment of other popular EVs -- will soon be used at Heathrow Airport as part of a plan to clean up the atmosphere.
An assortment of the battery-powered cars will be trialled out over the next month to investigate the viability of such vehicles within the no-doubt demanding context of daily airport operations. Among the EVs on trial will be the Nissan Leaf, Vauxhall Ampera, Peugeot iOn and Renault Kangoo Z.E. They will be used by British Airways, LSG SkyChefs and Gate Gourmet as ground vehicles, ferrying people and equipmen from one part of the airport to another. Between them, the companies hope to better understand how suitable, or awful, electric vehicles are for their operations.
The electric vehicles trial is being co-ordinated by the STS (Sustainable Transport Solutions), which manages the Heathrow Clean Vehicles Partnership. Its mission in coordinating the new electric vehicle trials is to reduce CO2 emissions across the lifecycle of a vehicle and drop NOx emissions across the airport.
How useful these cars will be in an airport setting remains to be seen. With the exception of the Renault Kangoo Z.E, all cars in the trial are designed primarily as passenger cars that ferry small numbers of people rather than large numbers of things. However the relatively small size of airports – even one as enormous as Heathrow – is potentially well suited to electric cars, which have relatively limited range.
STS director Dr Ben Lane said: "Given the current availability of high quality EVs, and need to reduce ground based vehicle emissions, STS are recommending an increase in the use of electric vehicles at Heathrow. In addition to the fleet of almost 700 electric baggage tugs already in use, we see considerable potential for other electric ground support equipment (such as cargo loaders and pushback tractors), as well as the latest on-road electric cars and vans now available in the UK."
David Vowles, Air Quality and Noise Policy Manager at Heathrow Airport Limited commented: "Ten per cent of airside vehicles are already electric. The Clean Vehicle Partnership facilitates collaborative working amongst Heathrow fleet operators as well as providing advice, guidance and training to reduce emissions. This trial gives fleet operators more experience of using electric vehicles and the opportunity to test their suitability for both airside use and on the road."
Results from the Heathrow EV trial trial will be presented at the Clean Vehicles Partnership seminar on December 6th.