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BT Ask Vauxhall to Build More EV Vans in the UK for Engineers

Monday, December 13th, 2021 (8:21 am) - Score 3,360
Openreach Vauxhall Corsa E

Telecoms giant BT is reportedly in talks with Vauxhall in the hope of encouraging the car manufacturer to ramp-up production of their electric vehicles and move more of the construction line into the UK. The aim is to support their goal of converting Openreach’s entire fleet of engineering vans to EVs by 2030.

At present BT is investing £15bn to ensure that 25 million UK premises are covered by Openreach’s new gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network by December 2026. But alongside that, they’re also in the process of converting their 27,000 strong fleet of Openreach engineering vehicles to electric, which forms part of the group’s wider Net Zero climate targets.

The operator has already conducted trials with a number of different EVs, such as various models from Renault (here) and Vauxhall (here). In terms of the latter company, BT has already purchased 270 Vivaro-e vans and 9 Corsa-e cars (pictured – top) from Vauxhall (total of 279) and, by the sounds of it, they’re preparing to make a much bigger order.

According to the Telegraph (Paywall), most of BT’s initial trial purchase have been imported from France, and they’d prefer to “buy British” by encouraging Vauxhall to shift production of their Vivaro-e to the manufacturing plant in Luton (this site currently builds the ICE version of the Vivaro). In return, they’d no doubt receive quite a big order. BT is Vauxhall’s biggest Vivaro customer.

However, Vauxhall also wants the UK government to open up their Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) to help support the plans for an expansion of UK EV production.

Paul Willcox, MD of Vauxhall Motors, said:

“Vauxhall proudly builds the Vivaro van at our plant in Luton and soon to bring production of our all-electric Combo-e van to Ellesmere Port. BT Openreach has already ordered 270 all-electric Vauxhall Vivaro-e from us and we are in discussion with them for supply of further electric vans.

We support the work of the electric vehicle fleet accelerator group in buying British-built electric vans and are keen to work with both them and the UK government on how we can bring the electric Vivaro-e production to our Luton plant.”

The news offers further evidence that Openreach have been pleased by the performance of their trial EVs from Vauxhall, which isn’t too much of a surprise. The car manufacturer has a long history of working closely with Openreach (most of their vans come from the same company) and will have tailored the product to their needs.

We should point out that, at present, BT’s EV upgrade plan doesn’t include specialist vehicles and heavy equipment (e.g. hoists/cherry-pickers, ditch witches etc.). One reason for that is the lack of affordable EV alternatives, but this may well change over the next decade.

vauxhall openreach ev car and van

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12 Responses
  1. MrTruth says:

    Buy British 🙂

    1. Bob says:

      You mean buy Dutch.

    2. Yatta! says:

      By Dutch you mean (largely) French / Italian and American owned, headquartered in the Netherlands.

  2. Sam P says:

    Fantastic idea. I look forward to the day where I no longer get stuck behind a smelly van pumping out black smoke. I drive everywhere with my air con on recirculation as I can’t go anywhere without breathing in cancer fumes.

  3. Ethel Prunehat says:

    Not sure BT are being realistic here. If Stellantis have tooled up a factory to make the Vivaro-e [and all the other names it’s sold as] elsewhere, it’s going to take a lot more than one order to convince them to re-tool another factory in the UK to do it as well.
    I am sure you can all think of an unrealistic telecoms infrastructure deployment analogy to pair with this one 🙂

    1. Blueacid says:

      Perhaps not, but it’s excellent advertising for Stellantis: people will see BT engineers getting the job done but travelling via electric vehicles. Prompting, potentially, other companies or individuals to investigate electric vans more closely.

      OK it’s not guaranteed to be a sequiteur, cause-effect thing, but this might be the angle they’re going for?

    2. A_Builder says:

      A blue chip fleet is what you need to leverage to take on a large market share.

      That said I think commercial EV’s are in their infancy and the commercial side of things will move leaps and bounds in the next few years.

      I drive a Tesla myself and whilst it is pretty good I am sure better things will emerge.

    3. Owen says:

      Centrica (British Gas) has already had a commitment to build these in the UK, currently have an order for 3000 total of them. Second order of 2000 were on the condition of a UK build, Order is for both short and long wheel base 75kwh vans.
      We currently have just over 600 of the initial 1000.

      https://www.centrica.com/media-centre/news/2021/british-gas-makes-largest-uk-commercial-ev-order-with-vauxhall-and-commits-to-accelerating-the-electrification-of-its-fleet/

  4. Declan M says:

    Am sure I read an article in autocar not too long ago stating that PSA where heavily investing in Ellesmereport for manufacturing vehicles for only the UK market which makes sense. It must be fair sized order BT-Openreach are going to place if they are coming out a statement like this.

  5. AJ says:

    I work for Openreach and have had my e Vivaro for about 6 months. Really pleased with it. It works perfect for my area as it’s not too big of a patch. Really nice to drive.

    1. John Frendship says:

      If I get a EV I would have to park it on my drive, connected to my house AND I’d still have to give commitment time and not get personal use.

      I understand OR would save on fuel, cant see what’s in it for me vs my Transit custom.

  6. Bob says:

    You need pretty big order book to justify ramping up production

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