FIFE Council is increasing its fleet of electric vehicles to save money and reduce its impact on the environment.
And it plans to create one of the largest charging networks in Scotland, with a number of points available for public use.
While electric vehicles are more expensive than their diesel equivalents, local authorities can receive grants from the Scottish Government, which is keen to encourage the use of low carbon vehicle technology.
And over a five year period, depending on the model of car, the Council can save up to £8500 in running costs compared to a diesel equivalent. Council figures indicate it the cost per mile for an electric vehicle is 0.034p, compared to 10p for a diesel.
Around 30 fleet vehicles are replaced each year by the Council, and it expects around a third of the replacements will be electric.
Bob McLellan, head of transportation and environmental services, said: “Not all fleet vehicles can be replaced with electric vehicles as current technology means that vehicles on average can only travel on a full charge for approximately 80 miles, taking eight hours on a standard charger.”
He said fleet cars covered an average of 40 miles between charges, well within the limit, and Fife Council was looking to locate charging points within 10 miles of each other, generally accepted to be the distance someone could travel on a one-hour ‘top-up’.
“By the end of 2012, Fife will have 30 charging locations, with 19 being publicly available.
“These are being installed at key offices and depots for Fife Council fleet vehicles, with publicly accessible charging points being located in main towns, in long-stay car parks and transport interchanges.”
The railway station car parks in Kirkcaldy and Aberdour, and Kirkcaldy’s Thistle Street car park are included in the locations for public charging points.
Councillors at Tuesday’s executive committee meeting supported the move towards electric vehicles, although Conservative councillor David Dempsey raised a number of points.
He questioned the distance electric vehicles could travel between charging and he suggested costs could rise if revenues from fuel duties fell.
Mr McLellan said he anticipated most private electric car owners would charge their vehicles at home overnight in their own garages and therefore wouldn’t require to charge their vehicles during the day, but regulations could be put in place to make sure no one could hog a space all the time.