Courier and express delivery firm SGM Distribution is making significant emissions and fuel cost savings through the operation of two electric vans on multi-drop work in Aberdeen city centre.

The Forfar, Angus-based operator trialled a Mercedes-Benz Vito E-CELL supplied by its local dealer around 18 months ago for a two-week period.

Following a successful operation during this period and further research into the technology, the company is now the first Scottish firm to to bring two mid-sized long wheelbase E-CELLs into service on its fleet in March this year.

Averaging approximately 50 miles per day on multi-drop deliveries, company director Shaun McLean said they are “fantastic vehicles to use about the city”.

He added: “We love them. They do the work of a diesel vehicle, so we are obviously reducing the environmental impact, as well as saving on fuel costs. The drivers like driving them too, as it’s exactly the same as a normal van.”

The electric vans are leased from Mercedes-Benz UK. SGM said they cost around 25% more per month to hire than a conventional diesel van on its operation.

SGM received a grant through the Energy Saving Trust to enable it to get a Siemens charging point supplied and installed at its premises free of charge.

The vans are brought in at the end of the day, having used between 70% and 80% of their available power, and charged overnight ready for use the following morning.

McLean said the company would consider adding further electric vehicles to its 48-strong fleet, but would ideally like a larger option with a bigger payload such as a Luton-sized van. However, availability of larger electric vans remains an issue, he added.

Through the ChargePlace Scotland project, 100% grant funding is available to Scottish-based businesses for the installation of electric vehicle charge points for workplaces. The aim of this funding is to complement the national network of charge points being installed across Scotland to promote electric vehicle use.

All Scottish-based businesses meeting the appropriate criteria can apply to the scheme, which is managed by the Energy Saving Trust - once approved they can select from a list of approved suppliers.