The Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Support Scheme has provided a pot of £3.6m to public sector fleet operators in Scotland to encourage them to choose greener vehicles by helping to bridge the price gap between a conventional van and a low carbon alternative.

Announced in June last year, the programme initially only covered all electric vehicles but Ashwoods persuaded the Scottish Department for Transport to open it up to hybrid commercial vehicles as well.

A spokesman for Ashwoods said hybrids cost about £10,000 more than conventional vans – 50% less than the £15,000 premium for an electric van. He said the fund could cover up to about 100 vans.

Ashwoods Automotive boss Mark Roberts said: “This offers public sector fleet managers in Scotland a risk free opportunity to purchase and assess hybrid vans that are already accepted in England as a proven product.”

Ashwoods claimed the hybrid vehicle, based on Ford’s Transit, could deliver fuel consumption and emission reductions of up to 25%. It added that, being self-powered, the system never needed plugging into a charging point and thus spared drivers the worry of the battery running flat.

Ashwoods Hybrid Drive recovers the kinetic energy usually wasted through braking or slowing down. A lithium-ion battery stores the energy, which is transferred to the wheels by an electric motor.

Ashwoods said the technology reduces wear and tear on brakes and does not interfere with the van’s structure so warranties and residual values are not affected. When a fleet manager wants to sell a van, Ashwoods said it could decouple the system, refurbish it and fit it to another vehicle.

In the first phase of a similar UK-wide scheme, the Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme. Ashwoods is supplying 137 out of 200 low carbon vans to a range of organisations including the Royal Mail and Environment Agency.