French postal service to go electric

La Poste, France's state-owned mail service, has announced plans to replace a significant chunk of its fleet with electric vehicles - making it the largest single supporter of the technology in the world.

On Tuesday, the company has invited electric vehicle manufacturers to bid for a contract to supply the first 500 vans, with a view to order a further 9,500 over the next five years.

This constitutes world’s biggest bulk order of electric vehicles yet.

The company employs 100,000 postmen and women and has a fleet of some 60,000 motor vehicles, 30,000 bikes, 25 planes and three high speed trains.

By showing its support of electric vehicles and putting its money where its mouth is La Poste believes it will help assure their future in France and beyond.

In 2003 the company committed to making significant reductions to its CO2 emissions and has calculated that each fossil-fuelled vehicle it replaces with an electric equivalent will save 4 tonnes of the gas per year.

The switch will also have financial benefits, helping La Poste reduce fuel bills and making it eligible for Government grants which support the use of electric vehicles.

As well as the electric vans, the organisation plans to purchase 600 electric bicycles, 250 electrically assisted handcarts to help it achieve its ambition of becoming the biggest user of clean vehicles in the world.

It will also be trialling 10 electric quad bikes.

The wholesale backing of electric vans follows successful trials of the vehicles in Paris and Bordeaux.

The trials showed that the vehicles were well-suited to the role, particularly in built up areas where restrictions are in place on polluting diesel and petrol vehicles.

Postal staff using the trial vehicles also reported better working conditions, with less stress, less noise and a lower than average incidence of accidents.

Sam Bond

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