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Openreach Trials 100% Electric Vans for their UK Engineers

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019 (1:29 pm) - Score 3,091
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Broadband and phone engineers working for Openreach in several parts of the United Kingdom, including Leeds and Birmingham, have begun using 100% electric vans as part of a new trial. Currently 15 vehicles are included in the national pilot and charging points have been installed at various buildings (exchanges, homes etc.).

The new vehicles, which sport a special design to spell out their green credentials, took to the roads this week. All of this supports BT’s pledge to be a net zero emission business by 2045 and they have a goal to reduce the carbon emissions of their customers by at least three times BT’s end-to-end carbon footprint by 2020.

NOTE: A lot of engineers keep their vans at their home address, hence why they’ve been given charging points.

The announcement doesn’t offer any information on the vehicles themselves, although the smaller vans we’ve seen all appear to be made by Renault (looks like the KANGOO Z.E. 33 Van or Maxi Van). The KANGOO Z.E. 33 costs from around £23,000 (after government grants) and is estimated to have a real world driving range of 124 miles in the summer (falling to just 74 miles for the large MASTER Z.E van that costs from £56,000).

The limited range does rather restrict their utility to staying within a smaller urban area, although EVs are improving at such a pace that it won’t be long before we see similar vans that can do double or more this.

Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, said:

“These first electric vans are an important milestone on our journey to a low carbon future. The potential for environmental benefit, if we can successfully integrate electric vans into our fleet, is enormous. Through this pilot we will learn practical lessons about the best way to use and charge the vehicles and develop systems which would help us make far greater use of electric vehicles in the future.

We’re absolutely committed to decarbonise our business and doing our bit to cut air pollution, so this pilot will be key to making that happen. The number of vans may be small in comparison to our fleet, but the lessons we’ll learn will be critical to making any larger transformation a reality.”

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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18 Responses
  1. Avatar AndyC

    Wonder if they can plug them into the fibre cabs for a quick charge while they work?

    • I don’t think that would work with the current infrastructure, which isn’t designed for it (maybe trickle charge but not rapid). Likewise you might create some new safety considerations with cables running to the van.

  2. Avatar FIBRE FOR ALL

    Boris Johnson has declared promise to bring full fibre for all of us in every county in this UK.

    • Avatar Paul

      Let’s just leave the EU first

    • @FIBRE FOR ALL. The previous administration already had such an aim. The question is whether or not Boris sticks to his guns on that unworkable 2025 target. We’re still waiting for some details but I fully expect something somewhere will have to be watered down (dates or definitions).

    • Avatar R Brian

      Boris Johnson also said something about £350 million on a bus, which has been proven to be false. He’s a Tory, so everything he says is to benefit himself and his school chums, while throwing ordinary people under the bus. If anything he does happens to benefit ordinary people, that’s just a coincidence, and as soon as he notices, he’ll stop it.

  3. Avatar vince

    So now if you upgrade your broadband and have a visit you will now provide tea, bathroom facilities and free electric to them to get to the next job.

    Or if you are one of the lucky few now you will not be “in range” (quite literally) for an upgrade or appointment. (hard to know which option is the better camp to be in).

  4. Avatar Andrew

    A lot of lampposts around my area are being installed with electric charging points within them, I would really like the chance to be on this trial if possible, I’m based in Liverpool.

  5. Avatar chris conder

    They won’t be helping the rural areas much then. And if they did a proper fibre network instead of all this old copper they would save a fortune in electric and cut down their carbon footprint far more than this publicity stunt.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @CC – How fast are OR installing FTTP across the UK?

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @TheFacts

      For once we fully agree.

      I won’t criticise OR for the scale and pace of what is really happening. We all see a lot of fibre in the ground which is good.

      The more OR push it the more the Alt Nets are forced to respond which only ups the game.

      I will crit OR for the poor history. But history is written by the victor. Who knows who will win now – eh?

    • Avatar OinkOink

      @TheFacts: They are upgrading the previously upgraded areas from superfast copper to FTTP.
      Those stuck on slow speeds (<10 Mbit mostly rural) are being ignored until the greedy pigs at BT/Openreach get even more government money to make it commercially viable.
      So your comment is your usual BT/Openreach marketing social medial department aligned response.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @TheFacts: Posting your lame questions again? You’ll be happy to learn this from your beloved Openreach: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/fibre-first

      How fast is Openreach installing fibre in the rural areas? Why aren’t you using a fibre line yet?

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      https://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/8470-time-for-a-revisit-of-how-openreach-fttp-is-split-up

      Has the monthly rollout split up, clearly is build going on in rural areas

  6. Avatar Grazza

    @ Oink Oink,

    The burden of rural coverage does not just rest with Openreach. If VM or the AltNets are not covering certain areas, why do you expect Openreach to?

  7. Avatar OinkOink

    @Grazza: BT got £1.8 Billion to rollout rural broadband through BDUK then upgraded FTTC cabinets that are not fit for purpose for rural customers. Great for upgrading their network for free and allowing them to serve and grab the higher density populations such as villages though.
    They also channeled a lot of resources to overbuild and protect their market in areas where there was competition.
    I believe they still have around £1 billion of that still sitting in their trough.
    Have VM & the AltNets been handed a couple of billion of government money also?
    Oink oink piggies… Oink! Oink!

    • Avatar Eyeball Paul

      That is pretty much on the money – I worked at OR as a network planner when we were awarded the regional contracts and the attitude of senior managers was unbelievable. It was seen as a ticket to build a cheap below par network for free, courtesy of the tax payer with no recourse.

    • Avatar 125us

      I’m not sure that’s how it worked. The government gave money to councils who contracted BT and others to do specific pieces of work. There was an obligation to cover as many properties as possible with the money available and FTTP wouldn’t have achieved that – it costs more per premises and it takes longer to do.

      If you have £x to spend, you can do a large number of properties, quickly, with FTTC or you can do far fewer, slowly, with FTTP. If FTTP had been the primary method used most of the people who got better broadband with BDUK money would still be waiting.

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