Low-emission vehicle adoption in a UK local authority fleet: economic barriers and air quality benefits

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Abstract

Local air quality was one of the main stimulants for low carbon vehicle development during the 1990s. Issues of national fuel security and global air quality (climate change) have added pressure for their development, stimulating schemes to facilitate their deployment in the UK. In this case study, Coventry City Council aimed to adopt an in-house fleet of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles to replace business mileage paid for in employee's private vehicles. This study made comparisons between the proposed vehicle technologies, in terms of costs and air quality, over projected scenarios of typical use. The study found that under 2009 conditions, the electric and hybrid fleet could not compete on cost with the current business model because of untested assumptions, but certain emissions were significantly reduced >50%. Climate change gas emissions were most drastically reduced where electric vehicles were adopted because the electricity supply was generated by renewable energy sources. The study identified the key cost barriers and benefits to adoption of low-emission vehicles in current conditions in the Coventry fleet. Low-emission vehicles achieved significant air pollution-associated health cost and atmospheric emission reductions per vehicle, and widespread adoption in cities could deliver significant change.

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