Ambulance service set to save millions with introduction of electric vehicles
North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) calculates
that it could save up to £2.5 million in fuel costs over the next four years
under a plan to introduce electrically powered rapid response vehicles (RRVs)
into its fleet.
NWAS says it will be one of the first ambulance services
in the country to introduce electric cars as part of its standard fleet.
RRVs are motorcars that have been converted into
emergency response vehicles. They are designed to be able to attend emergencies
quicker than regular ambulances because they are smaller and can get through
traffic more easily. Although they don’t generally carry patients to hospital,
they are staffed by a paramedic who is able to administer life-saving treatment
at the scene of an emergency.
Neil Maher, assistant director service delivery support for
NWAS, said: “The Trust relies heavily on rapid response vehicles to be able to
attend patients as quickly as possible.
“The introduction of these electrically powered cars will
not only provide huge cost savings for the Trust, it will also have a huge
impact on our carbon footprint, reducing the carbon contribution from our RRVs
from 1379.28 tonnes to 100.8 tonnes.”
Maintenance and lease costs are also reduced with the
introduction of the new RRV model, with an overall expected annual saving of
over £4,300 per vehicle.
NWAS currently has 174 rapid response vehicles throughout
the North West and will initially be introducing four electrically powered
vehicles as a trial on four-year leases.
The Trust says it will look to replace all RRVs with the
new electric models gradually in the coming years once the life-span of the
current vehicles comes to an end.
The four vehicles, initially being trialled in Bury and
Rochdale, will be an updated version of the BMW i3 model.
The BMW i3 REx AC model, which is already being used in police
and fire services in the UK, is equipped with a system that can support the
vehicle by extending the mileage range using a small petrol engine that can
generate electricity for the battery. The engine will only be used in extreme
circumstances but will provide additional reliability for NWAS.
Mr Maher said: “Although electric cars have been around
for some time, improvements in technology from BMW have allowed the Trust to be
confident enough to use them for emergency response units.
“The vehicles are fitted with additional technology
meaning the engine can be powered by petrol in the unlikely event that the
battery does run out. With the correct charging routines and future battery
advancement it is hoped that this system will only be used on a small number of
occasions to allow the Trust to achieve a target of zero emissions.
“Although the technology available on the market has not
yet advanced far enough to allow the Trust to introduce electric vehicles
throughout its entire ambulance fleet, this is a very exciting starting point
and we are looking forward to further advances in the future.”
A number of electric charging points have been installed
across the Trust and the first vehicles are expected to be in operation by