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World’s largest commercial EV project unveiled in the UK

‘Optimise Prime’ project takes 3,000 electric vehicles to the road to test the impacts of EV transition

The world’s biggest trial of commercial electric vehicles (EVs), ‘Optimise Prime’, has been given the green light by Great Britain energy regulator Ofgem, bringing together leading power, technology, fleet and transport companies to test and implement the best approaches to the EV rollout.

The three-year project has been developed to come up with practical ways of overcoming the up-front costs that are currently holding back many of the country’s biggest commercial vehicle operators from making the switch to EVs.

The project is led by global data technology solutions provider Hitachi Vantara and electricity distributor UK Power Networks. It is supported by distributor Scottish & Southern Electricity, Hitachi Europe and Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions. The project trial will include the rollout of up to 3,000 EVs from Centrica, Uber and a large depot-based parcel carrier.

The aim of the project is to deliver an end-to-end overview of what the switch to EVs means for the cables and substations that deliver our electricity; for the businesses that need to invest in new infrastructure; and for the end users that need to power their vehicles. It will create a detailed picture of the demands of electric fleet and private hire vehicles, which will make it possible to develop solutions that cut the cost of owning and running electric vehicles, such as charging EVs outside of the electricity network’s peak times.

Engineers from Centrica’s British Gas team will participate in the project, charging their vehicles at home using chargers provided by Centrica Electric Vehicle Services. Demand response services for the project will be delivered by Centrica Business Solutions.

Jonathan Tudor, Director of Technology Strategy and Innovation for Centrica Innovations, said: “We are delighted to be part of this important trial, helping to accelerate the roll out of e-mobility as part of the transition to a future that is cleaner and more connected than ever.

“As a leading energy and services company and operator of a growing fleet of electric vehicles, we know how important it is to find solutions to charging that are both affordable to the customer and manageable from a system perspective.”

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