Leeds City Council declared Climate Emergency in March 2019, pledging to become carbon neutral by 2030. As part of their drive to become a carbon-neutral authority Leeds City Council have signed up for the National Clean Van Commitment. They hope that this initiative will help educate West Yorkshire businesses on the significant benefits of switching to electric vehicles.  

Tom Cowen, Electric Vehicles (EV) Trial Service Manager from Leeds City Council, spoke at our Decarbonising Transport and Infrastructure conference [1] and talked us through LCC’s EV Trials Scheme.  


There are over 4 million vans on UK roads with van miles predicted to increase by 80% from 2010 to 2040 [1]. Furthermore, only 0.3% of the vans on UK roads are classed as ultra-low electric vehicles (ULEV) [1]. With road transport making up around 20% of UK greenhouse gas emissions, road travel will need to change significantly if we are to reach our net-zero targets [2].  


Electric vehicles are zero-emission, which means that they emit no greenhouse or noxious gases from their exhaust [3]. Tom outlined the business case for EVs, highlighting that they not only have huge environmental benefits but are financially favourable.

While EVs have zero tailpipe emissions and have 62% lower life cycle carbon emissions, service costs are also 40% lower for EVs. Tom also tells us that ‘Electricity costs per mile are half that of diesel’ and that ‘EVs are exempt from VED, congestion and emissions charges; even parking fees in some areas’ [1]. 

Understanding these benefits Leeds City Council introduced EV’s for the delivery of council services as well as setting up the EV Trial Scheme. The scheme allows businesses in West Yorkshire to have a two-month trial of an EV.

They are also provided with a telematics review of their existing vehicle and a business case detailing how much they will save financially as well as carbon and air pollution savings.

The case tells the customer which journeys are feasible in an EV and what their charging opportunities are. The Leeds City Council’s EV trials aim to help organisations understand how EV’s will help their businesses and encourage them to make the change.  

Key to making the trial a success was understanding the challenges it faced. Tom outlined these: 

  • Charging capacity  
  • Converting Sceptics 
  • Planning policies  
  • Funding 


The council have said that those taking part in the trial could also get extra funding to install a charge point. Furthermore, the council are installing rapid charging points across West Yorkshire to expand the hundreds of charging points that are currently in Leeds.

They have updated their planning policies so that all new parking developments in Leeds will require electric charging points.  Currently, you can find your nearest public electric charging point using Zap Map.  

The customer business case has been effective converting sceptics, clearly displaying the savings. The feedback from trial users has also been great. Tom gave us some feedback from the charity Hyde Park Source: 

“I’ve been surprised at how smooth and quiet the van is to drive and it has even coped well under the heavy weight of the timber we need to carry…we have already signed a lease on our own electric van – exactly the same model” ​[1]. 

The scheme has been so successful that it is currently closed to new applicants due to high demand, however, look out on the site to see when it re-opens.  


[1] Cowen, T., 2020. De-carbonising Transport and Infrastructure Conference 

[2] ons.gov.uk. 2019. Road Transport and Air Emissions  

[3] leeds.gov.uk. 2020. Electric Vehicle trials 

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Leeds City Council declared Climate Emergency in March 2019, pledging to become carbon neutral by 2030. As part of their drive to become a carbon-neutral authority Leeds City Council have signed up for the National Clean Van Commitment.

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