AN energy company is switching its supplier – by swapping petrol vehicles for electric cars.
Sunderland-based EDF Energy has taken delivery of three electric BMW Minis, as part of a drive to lower carbon emissions.
The firm has leased 35 fully-electric vehicles with London 2012 and EDF branding.
Three will be used at its offices in Doxford International Business Park.
Gareth Wynn, director of EDF’s 2012 programme, said: “Electric cars are already a lower-carbon choice, but as we progress with decarbonising electricity production in the UK over the coming years, the environmental case will get stronger and stronger.
“The Mini-E shows that electric cars can appeal to people who like to drive and who enjoy cars.
“They also show that low-carbon electric transport is a realistic prospect for the future that can contribute to UK carbon reduction targets.
“Our partnership with fellow London 2012 Sustainability Partner, BMW Group, fits perfectly with EDF’s ambitions to be a leader in low-carbon solutions.”
The Mini-Es will use four electric charging posts fitted at the Doxford site.
The announcement comes as efforts are made to improve the region’s infrastructure for electric cars, seen as key to both the North East’s economic development and efforts to lower carbon emissions.
Production will soon begin of the new Nissan Leaf electric vehicle at Washington.
The vehicles at EDF will be made available for employees to get around the region using the hundreds of electric vehicle charging points available.
The Mini-E can travel between 80 and 110 miles on a single charge, depending on driving style and conditions.
Owners of electric vehicles typically pay 2p to 3p pence per mile.
EDF Energy hopes the attention generated by the Mini-E fleet will help develop the electric vehicles market in the UK.
During the London 2012 Games, 30 of the Mini-Es from the EDF fleet will become part of the BMW Group London 2012 official vehicle fleet.
Mr Wynn said: “I hope that seeing and experiencing this iconic fully-electric vehicle will prompt people in the North East to think about how they can reduce the carbon footprint of their travel.
“This will be a great part of the legacy of sustainability from London 2012.”
Forecasts suggest that there will be 660,000 plug-in vehicles in the UK by 2020, and electric vehicles already have the potential to offer up to a 40 per cent CO2 saving compared with a typical family petrol car in the UK.