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WREV Electric Vehicles

Transportation is a crucial aspect of everyday business, particularly for companies in rural areas that often face greater challenges connecting with customers than their urban counterparts. Delivering goods and ferrying staff to and from work in remote locations can increase costs and stifle growth.

Researchers in our Centre for Business in Society have been working with local government and industry on an initiative to help rural businesses from a range of sectors make the most of the potential long-term benefits of using electric vehicles.

The two-year study in rural Warwickshire saw the university, the county council and over 15 businesses based in the countryside work together to ditch diesel and petrol and trial the use of battery-powered alternatives for work, leisure, visiting clients, carrying out deliveries and supporting staff travel.

Throughout the study, researchers from the university analysed the use of the vehicles along with estimated cost savings, participant feedback and carbon emissions. The fleet of 17 vehicles loaned as part of the initiative – including BMW i3s and Nissan Leafs – completed more than 200,000 miles for the businesses involved, and one organisation that took part saved over £3,000 in fuel costs across the trial period.

Negative feedback from participants was few and far between, but included comments on the lack of charging points in rural locations and associated ‘range anxiety’ about the distances that the vehicles can cover between charges.

Findings from the trial are now being used to used inform policymakers, businesses and other stakeholders in their decision-making about the potential advantages and disadvantages of low carbon technology for rural motoring.

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