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British Gas-owner eyes 10 to 15 per cent EV installation market share with new digital service to link drivers with installers

Energy giant Centrica has launched a new digital service which helps homeowners find trusted local electric vehicle (EV) charger installers, as part of its drive to secure a 10 to 15 per cent share of the expanding UK market for domestic charge point installations.

The firm's Local Heroes service will help customers to identify what type of EV charger they need for their home via a short digital survey, before finding a trusted tradesperson to install it and unlocking government grants to help towards the cost, Centrica explained.

All work undertaken is then backed by a one year guarantee and the chargers are covered by a three year manufacturer warranty, it added.

The British Gas-owner is also training its smart meter engineers in a bid to help meet the growing demand for home EV chargers, much of which it hopes will come via its Local Heroes application process.

Centrica, which yesterday pledged to switch its entire 21,000-strong vehicle fleet to electric by 2030, said it was targeting a 10 to 15 per cent market share of all domestic charge point installations in the UK.

"British Gas already offers time of use tariffs for electric vehicle owners, so they can benefit from cheaper electricity off peak and we can now also help consumers find a cost effective and efficient way to install their electric vehicle charger," explained Dave Kirwan, managing director for UK home at Centrica. "We are committed to this market and so made the decision to upskill our engineering workforce in preparation for the shift to electric vehicles. We were one of the first to start installing domestic charge points and are a preferred supplier for the large car manufacturers."

In further EV industry news, the UK's largest vehicle leasing company Lex Autolease, a division of Lloyds Bank, this week announced it has chosen battery car leasing specialist DriveElectric to handle its EV leads and enquiries.

The partnership is designed to help Lloyds Bank's 1.2 million business customers make the switch towards EVs and electric vans, offering them expert advice on securing the optimal EV option for their needs.

Battery car sales continue to soar in the UK, the latest SMMT industry data found last week, although sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles have fallen significantly after cuts to the government grant.

The latest sales data came ahead of yesterday's results of a year-long UK trial carried out by carmaker Ford which found plug-in-hybrid electric commercial vehicles could present a "practical, readily available option" for firms trying to meet increasingly stringent air pollution rules in cities.

Supported by a £4.7m government grant, the trial assessed the emissions of 20 Ford Transit plug-in hybrid vans covering 150,000 miles over the 12-month period in order to test whether businesses could carry out typical daily routines of their diesel powered vehicles while maximising the use of their electric-only mode.

The results of the project show that during the trial 75 per cent of the fleet's mileage in Central London and 49 per cent in Greater London was completed using pure electric power.

Mark Harvey, director of Ford's Urban Electrified Van programme, said zero emissions mobility was "essential" for the future of cities and people, but that barriers to wider adoption still exist.

"We also know that businesses still have legitimate concerns about the range of fully-electric vehicles, as well as their cost-effectiveness and reliability," he said. "These trials have helped Ford and its customers to investigate the extent to which PHEVs can help to achieve urban air quality goals, whilst not compromising on productivity."

Ford said it now intends to carry out further similar trials in Cologne in Germany and Valencia and Spain to provide data from different markets, cities, and demographics.

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