We have chosen Ashwoods Automotive as this year’s winner of the What Van? Green Award because its products and services are having a real impact in helping operators to cut fuel costs and improve their environmental performance.
The firm is best known for installing its hybrid drivetrain into Ford Transits and the diesel/electric Ashwoods Transit is well established in the market place.
But in 2011 Ashwoods recognised that developing a cleaner vehicle was only half the battle and that producing cleaner drivers presented an even more effective way to save fuel and cut CO2 emissions. The result was the launch of the in-cab driver training device Lightfoot in 2013.
Through delivering fuel savings of around 15%, Ashwoods promises a rapid return on investment with Lightfoot, which costs £250 per unit plus a monthly subscription ranging from £8 to £15 depending upon the length of contract (12 to 60 months) and fleet size.
For example, for a fleet of 10 vans, Ashwoods says Lightfoot will save £10,300 over three years and reduce CO2 emissions by 14.9 tonnes. For a fleet of 500, it claims Lightfoot will cut bills by more than £1.5m and CO2 by 1742 tonnes.
An added bonus is that if vans take less punishment from less aggressive driving maintenance costs go down and RVs increase.
Lightfoot encourages a more fuel-efficient driving style through a mixture of visual prompts based on a traffic light sequence and audible gearshift alerts and warnings to minimise inefficient habits, such as hard acceleration.
Lightfoot operations manager John Poxon says: “Lightfoot is like having a driver training specialist sitting next to a driver every second they are on the road, making sure they do not slip into bad habits.”
Lightfoot sends an email report to the fleet manager every week or month summarising the performance of drivers.
But Poxon says the system is supportive rather than heavy handed as only long-term inefficient behaviour incurs penalties.
“Warnings received by the driver are not reported,” Poxon says, “it is only the third strike penalties that are relayed to the fleet manager. This provides positive support as Lightfoot works with the driver to improve their driving style and gives them every chance to ensure reports show them in the best light.”
Two customers satisfied with Lightfoot are Autoglass and Islington Council. Autoglass has rolled out the eco-drive system across its 1100-strong fleet. Apart from the fuel savings, it praised Lightfoot for not producing the huge amount of data churned out by traditional telematics systems.
Islington Council runs a fleet of 37 Ashwoods Hybrid Transits, which Ashwoods claims will reduce CO2 emissions by 33 tonnes and save the council an estimated £48,000 in diesel over three years.
British Gas has pushed itself forward as a leader in building an infrastructure for charging electric vehicles. The firm has now installed more than 1000 of the 7000 charging points in the UK, 80% of which are at commercial or public premises, with the remainder being at residential locations. British Gas’s client base covers both cars and light commercial vehicles, and ranges from residential to small and large fleets.