26 September 2022
Our transport category rises to the Net Zero challenge
We take a look at how our fleet frameworks have evolved over the years, to offer councils lower emission solutions
Grant Montgomery is the Category Manager for the Transport and Environment team. Here he shares his views on how the category has evolved as it supports the public sector to source lower emission transport solutions.
Q: Can you tell us about the evolution of the transport category as environmental sustainability has become more important?
"In 2008 when we were establishing the category, we were focused on helping councils to source their much-relied upon fleet which includes cars, vans, heavy vehicles – and back then, this was primarily diesel.
Since then, the UK Government has, through taxation, promoted the use of lower emission diesel vehicles. And so, over time the fleet landscape has changed with the introduction of stricter emissions standards such as Euro Vi.
Around five years ago we started to see some introduction of electric and hybrid technologies in the car industry. It was limited then, but as we all know, it has grown at a rapid pace and continues to grow. And in recent years, we’ve started to see councils incorporate these types of vehicles into their fleet.
Scotland Excel of course evolves with the needs of our members. Our joint vehicle purchase framework with our partners Crown Commercial Service gives the public sector access to all types of vehicles and technologies, as it offers direct access to almost every main vehicle manufacturer in the UK. This also offers leasing options which can often prove to be more cost effective for some.
Our strategic partnership with Crown Commercial Service is helping councils to procure all cutting-edge engine technologies compliantly and efficiently.
The trend of electric vehicle uptake within public sector fleet has rapidly continued and now we are seeing an acceleration in uptake - which comes with the Scottish Government changing the policy direction and making supportive funding available."
Q: Has the transport category faced any challenges?
"The level of charging infrastructure across the country has been a challenge. So we mitigated this by introducing a national collaborative model for the Scottish public sector, and took the lead in offering councils and the wider public sector a solution. Our Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure contract went live earlier this year.
Another challenge in recent years has been the alignment between manufacturers, their research and their products – with the demand coming from the public sector, and this is primarily in the heavy vehicles sector.
A current challenge we face is the shortage of heavy use of chip sets that are in electric vehicles, and this is made worse with the war in Ukraine and so we’re now seeing an impact on lead in times for a vehicle."
Q: What’s next in terms of a greener Scottish public sector fleet?
"The focus now is very much moving to electric or hydrogen technologies for larger heavy-duty vehicles, such as RCVs. Many manufacturers are still in the early stages of development regarding hydrogen RCVs for example, and although limited, some councils have started to introduce hydrogen and electric bin lorries.
Scotland Excel absolutely wants to be part of the hydrogen strategy and we worked with Transport Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government to bring together a supply chain development event for zero emissions mobility in Dundee at the end of June.
We are now at the same point of the demand curve with hydrogen (and electric) for larger vehicles that we were at with smaller, electric vehicles several years ago. The Scottish Government are very clear in their direction of travel for hydrogen, and there are a lot of discussions underway between the public sector and manufacturers about the technology and the infrastructure.
The Dundee event focused on innovation, partnership and products and was extremely worthwhile, helping to strengthen and align the link between manufacturing expertise and public sector need."
Q: What does this mean for Scotland Excel’s framework for Supply and Delivery of Heavy Vehicles?
"We’ve created capacity in the framework for alternatively fuelled heavy and niche vehicles. The latest generation went live at the start of 2022. During strategy development with the User Intelligence Group, we realised councils were starting to dip a toe in electric and hydrogen for heavy vehicles.
We knew that this is still very much an emerging and evolving market and diesel technology is still playing a part in the heavy vehicle market – so we accepted that we were in a transition period.
We progressed with the framework and added in two additional innovative engine technology lots: Innovative chassis and municipal street sweepers.
This allowed SMEs and companies beginning to develop products in the electric and hydrogen area to bid to join the framework. It meant they could give us their vision of what they could provide the public sector during the lifetime of the framework.
Councils using our framework can run mini competitions where they will specify in detail what bespoke products they are looking for."
Q: Are there any other developments within the category to progress low emission transport solutions?
"We are currently working with the supply base for our tyres framework to look into options for the best low carbon solution. This is considering the lifecycle of the product – how it’s made; distribution logistics; composition of the product; and the fuel efficiency it offers."
This feature is part of Scotland Excel’s ‘Supporting the journey to Net Zero’ campaign that supports the Scottish Government’s ambitious target for Scotland to become Net Zero by 2045.