Electric ambulances could save cash

From right: Stuart Rankine, Vehicle and Equipment Manager for NWAS, Neil Maher, Assistant Director Service Delivery Support for NWAS, Gary Eaton, Operations Manager for NWAS and Nick Withington, Regional Operations Manager for BMW Group test out the new electrically powered rapid response vehicle at Rochdale ambulance station.
From right: Stuart Rankine, Vehicle and Equipment Manager for NWAS, Neil Maher, Assistant Director Service Delivery Support for NWAS, Gary Eaton, Operations Manager for NWAS and Nick Withington, Regional Operations Manager for BMW Group test out the new electrically powered rapid response vehicle at Rochdale ambulance station.

North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) is one of the first ambulance services in the country to introduce electric cars to respond to emergencies.

The introduction of the electrically powered rapid response vehicles (RRVs) could save the Trust up to £2.5 million in fuel costs over the four year lease period.

RRVs are motorcars that have been converted into emergency response vehicles.

They are designed to be able to attend emergencies quicker than regular ambulances because they are smaller and can get through traffic more easily.

Although they don’t generally carry patients to hospital, they are staffed by a paramedic who is able to administer life-saving treatment at the scene of an emergency.

Neil Maher, Assistant Director Service Delivery Support for North West Ambulance Service said: “The Trust relies heavily on rapid response vehicles to be able to attend patients as quickly as possible.

“The introduction of these electrically powered cars will not only provide huge cost savings for the Trust, it will also have a huge impact on our carbon footprint, reducing the carbon contribution from our RRVs from 1379.28 tonnes to 100.8 tonnes, a reduction of 73%.”

Maintenance and lease costs are also reduced with the introduction of the new RRV model, with an overall expected annual saving of over £4,300 per vehicle.

NWAS currently has 174 rapid response vehicles throughout the North West and will initially be introducing four electrically powered vehicles as a trial.

The Trust will look to replace all RRVs with the new electric models gradually in the coming years once the life-span of the current vehicles comes to an end.

The four vehicles, initially being trialled in Bury and Rochdale, will be an updated version of the BMW i3 model which has won various awards including UK Car of the Year and Green Car of the Year.

The BMW i3 REx AC model, which is already being used in Police and Fire Services in the UK, is equipped with a system that can support the vehicle by extending the mileage range using a small petrol engine that can generate electricity for the battery.

This will provide additional reliability Neil said: “This is a very exciting starting point and we are looking forward to further advances in the future.”

A number of electric charging points have been installed across the Trust and the first vehicles are expected to be in operation by early April.