Manchester Metropolitan University: Self-confessed ‘EV nut’ pushes the
electric agenda
21/09/2017 Andrew Ryan

(Jason w/ MMU's e-NV200 & Leaf EVs)

Adding electric vehicles (EVs) to Manchester Metropolitan University’s fleet
is not just part of Jason Smith’s job: it’s a passion.

In his Twitter bio, the fleet assistant describes himself as an ‘electric
vehicle nut’, and with good reason.

“I think you have to be,” says the 33-year-old.

“I think if you want to do (my job) like I do, you have to immerse yourself
in it.”

Smith has owned a Nissan Leaf for the past three years and his first-hand
experience has made him an enthusiastic advocate of the technology.

“I could have got a standard family car and no one would have thought
anything about it, but an EV makes sense for me, for where I live, my
journey to work, being able to charge it here,” he says.

“It was a no-brainer to have one, and having one helps me educate people
about them.”

Jason Smith Manchester MET university fleet assistant

This has been important in helping MMU further its green credentials,
something it prizes highly. It is currently ranked the third greenest
university in the country in the People and Planet University League.

Its electric vehicle journey began in 2014 when it won funding from
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) towards installing 24 charging

“This was the catalyst for everything we’ve done,” says Smith. “It was the
whole chicken and egg scenario. 

“We didn’t want to buy any electric cars until we had some infrastructure,
and getting it helped to kick-start what we wanted to do here.”

The university now has 36 charging points – including the only
publically-accessible rapid charger in central Manchester.

It has introduced a pool car fleet of five Leafs (two 24kwh and three 30kwh
models) and replaced three diesel delivery vans with electric Nissan

MMU ... security team has also replaced its diesel vehicles with an e-NV200
and a Leaf.

A number of under-utilised diesel vans have also been defleeted.

Smith says the introduction of the pool car fleet has been one of the
biggest successes.

It has covered a combined 40,000 miles – saving around £15,000 in mileage
payments – since it was launched in 2015.

“We’d never had a pool car system before in any capacity,” he says.

    “We had a lot of people using their own vehicles for work-related
journeys, but they were also renting vehicles from our nominated supplier
and instead of taking them for a couple of hours, they may have been taking
them for a week if they had placement visits, which was not cost effective
at all.

“All our placement visits and meetings tend to take place within the Greater
Manchester area, and are very rarely outside a 30-mile radius, which makes
them suitable for EVs.”

One of the early challenges faced by Smith was the administration of the
scheme: who would keep the keys, how could employees book the cars, how
could he ensure they were put on charge at the end of their hire?

The answers came from a supplier. “We were actually approached by Enterprise
to see if we would like to be a pilot scheme for, effectively, what is its
car club,” says Smith.

“We had already made the capital purchase, but we pay Enterprise a monthly
fee, it installs its telematics, gives us a portal on its website and we can
book our vehicles through its car club booking system.

“People can get into the cars with their membership card and start it with
their PIN.

“It gives drivers the flexibility of being able to take a car at 7am or
return it at 11pm and not be concerned about where to leave the keys or if
they’re secure because the Enterprise system looks after that.”

Drivers are encouraged to plug their vehicles in at the end of their hire,
but Enterprise monitors the cars so if the charge hasn’t been increasing
over a certain amount of time, a member of staff is deployed to plug them

Smith says around 160 employees have so far signed up to the pool car
scheme, with 65% to 70% of those having used the vehicles. The average
mileage of each hire is between 25 and 30.

“I think we can put a lot of (the scheme’s success) down to us being quite
personal in our approach. So, instead of leaving people to their own
devices, we have done quite a lot of personal training,” he adds.

“You can arrange a half-hour session with us where we talk you through the
booking process right the way through to driving a Leaf.

"We’ve found you can dispel rumours about electric cars if you actually sit
people in the EV and allow them to drive it. 

“We can tell them that it’s ok to have the air-conditioning on. They don’t
need to turn the radio off. Also, they don’t need to email us or go online
to find out about it.”

This is where Smith’s experience as an EV owner helps. “During the sessions
you can see people visibly relax,” he says.

“I can tell them that I’ve never run out of charge, that I’ve been to London
in it, to Birkenhead in it and Yorkshire in it, and that does seem to have
an effect on people.

“I can honestly say, of all the people who have used the pool cars in all
this time, nobody has said to me ‘I’m not driving that again, it doesn’t
work for me’.

    “All the feedback has been positive. We’ve even had people taking them
beyond their range and used the public networks to charge them. They feel
confident with them.”

As well as the financial savings, Smith estimates the pool car scheme has
cut CO2 emissions by around 6.65 tonnes, but these are not the only

Given the vehicles are liveried and branded, they portray a positive image
of the university, while also helping reduce the demand for parking spaces
on the campus – a commodity under threat as the university’s estate strategy
is looking at redeveloping many of the spaces in the future.

“If people are bringing their cars to work purposely to go on and do other
journeys, then they are still using a car parking space,” says Smith.

“With the pool car scheme, they can book a vehicle up to six weeks in
advance, they know the car is here and available for them, and in the
long-term they know they won’t need to bring their car into the city or on
to the campus any longer.”

Smith adds: “We still feel we haven’t scratched the surface on the pool cars
in all honesty.

"Last year 550 members of staff made a claim for mileage for using their own
car, and we’re up to 160 people who have signed up to the pool car scheme,
so we still have a little bit of work to be done trying to bring those
numbers up.

"We also still feel we can utilise the cars better than we do at the

The university also has a number of other initiatives aimed at encouraging
staff to travel to work in modes of transport other than a car.

These include a cycle-to-work scheme under which more than 150 bicycles have
been bought, loans and travel discounts for public transport, while a
stringent application process for parking permits is also reducing the
number of people able to park on campus.

A survey earlier this year found the proportion of staff driving to work as
single occupants has decreased from 31% to 26% over the past three years.
The university hopes to reduce this to 25% by 2020-2021. 

Another core focus of MMU’s electric vehicle strategy is to replace ageing
diesel vans with electric models.

So far – excluding the security team’s vehicles – three have been replaced
by e-NV200s.

These are a van on the university’s Crewe campus, a vehicle used by the
reprographics team which, for example, delivers printing and paper around
the Manchester campus, and one used to deliver internal mail.

“The internal mail delivery van has been our biggest win,” says Smith.

    “It’s replaced a diesel van which was doing between 75 and 80 miles each
day – a no-brainer for an electric vehicle. However, we did discover quite
early on that it wouldn’t really make the journey on a single charge – it
was too close for comfort for the guys.”

This issue was initially resolved by charging at Knutsford services, but the
university did not want to rely on the public charging network, so “with a
little help from Nissan” it installed a rapid charger on the Crewe campus,
says Smith.

“We installed it right next to the post room, so the driver can plug it into
the charger and that 15-minute boost it provided while they were doing work
in Crewe was more than enough to get back to Manchester.

“It was not really that cost-effective to do it, but that was our commitment
to electric vehicles and we wanted to make it work.”

He adds: “The internal mail delivery van is doing 1,200 miles a month and
it’s been invaluable.”

Smith’s ultimate aim is to replace all diesel vehicles with electric models,
but this puts him at the mercy of the market, he says ...

“Some of them live beyond the range of the electric vans we’ve been looking
at recently, so there’s a bit of a discussion going on internally whether
the call-out system needs to be changed. 

“Ideally we want to be able to have a 100% electric fleet, but there are
still some obstacles we have to overcome.”
EV policy earns MMU go ultra low status

Manchester Metropolitan University’s commitment to low emission vehicles has
earned it national recognition.

MMU has qualified for Go Ultra Low Company status, which acknowledges and
rewards companies that have included significant numbers of electric
vehicles on their fleets, with a commitment to add more before 2020.

Earlier this year it was also awarded the Gold Travel Choices standard by
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) for its sustained commitment towards
promoting sustainable travel.

“A lot of our business cases have been more about outward facing and setting
the precedent for being a leader in electric vehicles,” says Jason Smith.

“We’ve done a lot of work with TfGM, and have given presentations to other
businesses about what we’ve been doing in terms of electric vehicles, how
we’ve made these things work and how they can tap into various grants to
help them achieve their aims.”
[© 2017 Bauer Consumer Media]

For EVLN EV-newswire posts use:


Sent from:
Read EVAngel's EV News at
Please discuss EV drag racing at NEDRA (

Reply via email to