Electric drive

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Aston University and North Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust are piloting an exclusive electric car trial to help cut carbon emissions .

Aston University and North Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust are piloting an exclusive electric car trial.

The organisations are two of only 60 to have taken delivery of the latest smart ed (electric drive) car, which will be officially launched next year.

The two-seater car, which is plugged into any UK mains three-pin plug socket, travels 70 miles on a single charge, achieves the equivalent of 300 miles to the gallon and has a top speed of 60mph.

Prof Julia King, vice-chancellor of Aston University, who sits on the UK government’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change, will be among senior university staff using the car to attend regional meetings.

Similarly, support services provider, Amey, which has taken delivery of the smart ed car for the NHS, will see the Mental Health Trust regularly using the vehicle for cross-city journeys.

Prof King, who also led the government’s ‘King Review’ to examine how alternative transport and fuels could reduce carbon emissions from road transport, said; 'I believe electric vehicles and car-share schemes are a fantastic opportunity to reduce congestion, noise and pollution from our streets.

'Electric vehicles are one major way in which we can begin to use advances in current technology to help reduce the UK’s greenhouse emissions.'

Dermot Kelly, managing director at Mercedes-Benz UK, who officially handed over the vehicles to the organisations involved, said; 'The smart ed market trials are an important part of our commitment towards developing sustainable transport solutions across the Mercedes-Benz business.'

Mel Ewell, chief executive officer of Amey added: 'As a major fleet owner and operator for councils and businesses we are always looking for ways to minimise our own carbon footprint and help our customers to do the same. This year we are revising our company car policy to include greener options, and the smart ed vehicles has the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions and running costs.'

A further four smart ed’s will be piloted by Amey, who will be trialling the vehicles in major cities including Oxford, Birmingham and Plymouth.

A market trial of up to 100 units of the smart ed is currently being run in the UK and is being made available on a lease arrangement to selected corporate customers. The fully electric version of the popular smart fortwo has been developed in conjunction with Zytek Group, and is exempt from Vehicle Exercise Duty and London Congestion Charging.