Ross Care EV initiative

Wheelchair services and mobility equipment provider Ross Care has taken part in an initiative set up by Sheffield Council to test how it can utilise an electric vehicle van fleet.

Sheffield Council, supported by Highways England, piloted the Clean Air scheme to support local businesses to plan how electric vehicles can be integrated into their fleets.

The goal is to support action to reduce air pollution from diesel vehicles in and around Sheffield. Light commercial vehicles such as vans account for only 13 per cent of vehicles on the road, but contribute to over a quarter of emissions in Sheffield.

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Ross Care has committed to a range of practices to minimise its’ carbon footprint, and it stated that it was keen to take part in the initiative and discover how it might inform practices going forward.

This took the form of a two-month trial of a Nissan Acenta. This short term loan would provide Ross Care with the opportunity to explore a range of topics including the benefits of electric, experiencing the use of EV (electric vehicle) charger networks, gaining a better understanding of the range of electric vans and how this fits in with its business.

The vehicle was predominantly used by Ross Care’s Senior Engineer Neil Baker, who commented: “We were very impressed by the vehicle and leant a lot from the experience. The range is great for local runs around the city and the driving experience, even on the hilly streets of Sheffield, has been excellent.

“It was also kitted out with all the ‘mod cons’, with heated seats being particularly welcome during the winter! The use of the heater did however have a notable effect on the range.

“Having experimented with several options, we found a great place for its use in our operations. For wheelchair deliveries where capacity is important, the limitations were more apparent.

“However, it was ideal for our wheelchair repairer service as we visit service users around the city at their homes. This has been great as it reduces the emissions around city where the highest level of concern is, whilst also reducing our running costs for this type work.”

Justine Long, Group Fleet Manager, who met with the local team to investigate the findings of the trial, added: “We have strong aspirations to ensure maximum efficiency and lower emissions for our fleet with the utilisation of an EV van fleet.

“Our trials indicate that there are pockets where a medium-sized LCV EV’s will work for the business which, will be the focus for our growing EV fleet.

“For large panel vans, whilst there are some good solutions to make the switch to electric, the charging infrastructure availability and the total cost of ownership is not competitive enough right now for mass adoption.

“However, we continue to be proactive in seeking out innovations such as this to minimise our environmental impact.”

The Sheffield team at Ross Care are subsequently conducting a trial of a company owned electric Peugeot Expert, which offers additional capacity.

In September 2021 Ross Care was granted the Social Value Award by Cheshire and Merseyside Social Care Partnership and the Social Value Business in recognition of its work across the North West.

Ross Care became a part of the Millbrook Group in February 2021 which extended the combined service to 45 service centres nationwide with 1,200 colleagues supporting the delivery of over 70 contracts.

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