Ultra low emission vehicles

There is a wide range of activity taking place in Scotland relating to electric and ultra low emission vehicles.  While much of the public sector activity is focussed around installation of charging points and replacing diesel and petrol fleet cars with electric cars, other activities are also taking place.

SSN Members Event - Electric Vehicles

A short session on electric vehicle adoption was included as part of the SSN Members Event held 13th December 2017 in Glasgow.

  • Rebecca Wallace (Marketing and Communications, Dundee City Council) spoke about how the Council has provided charging infrastructure and promoted the benefits of using electric vehicles to encourage greater adoption amongst Dundee’s residents and business community, notably having the first fleet of electric taxis in Scotland.
  • David Charles (Energy Engineer, Strathclyde University) gave an insightful overview of the university’s journey towards EV adoption and infrastructure provision (slides). Audio recordings of both talks will be made available in due course.

Interesting points of discussion included the need to avoid seeing the adoption of electric vehicles as a simple substitution process. While this will help reduce fossil fuel consumption and improve local air quality in urban areas it will not address broader sustainability and social justice issues around transport, mobility and access, particularly in relation to “transport poverty”,

Some members mentioned continued prejudice against using electric vehicles, citing range anxiety as the most common criticism, although it can be an excuse that hides other concerns or issues. Training and hands-on experience help change perceptions, attitudes and habits e.g. adopting “grazing” practice by keeping batteries topped-up on shorter, more frequent charge cycles rather than typical petrol/diesel practice of “gorging” to fill the tank at a garage more infrequently.

Several organisations are securing training and support for staff from Switched on @work.

Car clubs

Car clubs are playing an important role in the decarbonisation of road transport in Scotland. The car club sector in Scotland is diverse and growing. It increasingly provides communities in Scotland with convenient and affordable access to pay-as-you drive fuel-efficient and plug-in electric vehicles (EVs). By offering individuals, families and employers convenient, new, safe vehicles, it is changing the way people travel by reducing their dependency on privately owned, high polluting vehicles.

What is a car club?

A car club is a member-based organisation that provides access to pay-as-you-drive vehicles. These are available for hire for as little as 30 minutes up to several days at a time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Car club vehicles tend to be parked in dedicated and clearly marked parking spaces close to homes and workplaces. 

The Carplus website has a large resources of useful information about car clubs including a case study on how a car club is not only benefiting The Wise Group as a business, but also their staff for private use and the local community.
Check out the Carplus interactive map to see if there is a car club operating in your area.
For more information, including advice about how to establish a car club, please contact scotland@carplus.org.uk.

University of St Andrews Electric Car Club

In partnership with the University, E-Car Club now operate a fleet of 10 all-electric vehicles and 2 Hybrid cars in St Andrews for use by students, local residents and businesses alike.

City of Edinburgh Council electric vehicle action plan

In late 2017 City of Edinburgh Council approved its first Electric Vehicle (EV) Action Plan (see item 7.4 in Reports). The Plan takes a strategic approach to the installation of EV infrastructure via key zones across the city and is considered an innovative approach to this developing agenda. An early action is the development of a business case for EVs and consultants have been appointed to consider two scenarios for 2020 and 2023. This will assess future growth, best locations, charger type and potential carbon savings and is in partnership with Transport Scotland, due to complete in March 2018. The Plan also contains actions on EV maintenance, parking standards, e-mobility, promotion and partnership.

Further information and contact details

Michael Kellett, The City of Edinburgh Council

Email – Michael.Kellett@edinburgh.gov.uk

Tel – 0131 529 3230

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

Charging points

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has developed a network of electric vehicle charging points across the Western Isles taking into account the needs of residents and visitors. Charging points have been located along a N-S spinal route from Butt of Lewis in the North to Castlebay on Barra in the south. A range of types of charging points have gone in, including 7Kw, 22 Kw and 50Kw chargers. Installation of chargers started in 2013 and there are now a total of 13. 


Locations for charging points were identified in partnership with Community Planning Partnerships and SSE to ensure that the electricity infrastructure was suitable. For the most part, charging points have been located where there are facilities, but some have also gone in at strategic locations even if no facilities are available. To date canopies haven’t been put in at charging points but going forward they will be.


  • Transport Scotland funding
  • E-Car Club funding

Cost of providing electricity

There is an increasing cost associated with vehicles using the electric car charging posts. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is seeking funding for ongoing maintenance and electricity and other costs related to ongoing monitoring. They are currently waiting for guidance from Transport Scotland on managing these costs.

Mobile phone reception

On the whole, charging points have been installed in locations with good mobile phone reception, but this hasn't always been possible. Where it hasn't been possible, other solutions have been put in place. For example, at the Butt of Lewis one charging point has been installed beside a school and another has been hardwired into a council office in case there's no phone reception.

Electricity infrastructure

Not all locations are suitable for charging points due to insufficient electricity infrastructure and a need to upgrade transformers. To ensure charging points are put in places where there is either adequate electricity infrastructure or where suitable infrastructure can go in, the location of charging points is planned in partnership with SSE to avoid problems at a later date, or once locations have been agreed with Transport Scotland. If this significantly increases the cost of the project, then Transport Scotland have been asked to provide the additional funding.

E-car club

In 2016, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar was approached by E-Car Club to see if there was interest in having E-Car Club vehicles available in the Western Isles. The initial three-month pilot was extended by a further three months.  EV posts installed by the Council  were used for the pilot scheme. E-Car Club has its own infrastructure for charging points. Cars are currently based at Stornoway airport and Stornoway ferry terminal and at Car Hire Hebrides. The plan is that the cars can be used by both local residents and visitors to the island.

There is now a plan for a new E-Car Club to be located in Balallan on Lewis. A 22Kw charging post is currently being installed for this project which is a partnership between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, E-Car Club and the local community. The community centre where the car will be based is currently being refurbished and will include a laundry, café and other community initiatives. The parking space will be in a visible location near the main road with clearly visible signage. Advertising and promotion will be put in place before the car is available to the local community. One car will be available for the first three months with possibly another car being added if there is sufficient demand. The aim of the project is to reduce the need for local residents to have to have a second car. The community will meet the cost of electricity used by the charging post.

Fleet vehicles

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has a small fleet of 2 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). There was a small fleet of Nissan Leaf electric cars but these have been replaced by the plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. All staff are asked to use these cars as their first choice when needing to drive for work.

Further information and contact details

Robert MacLennan, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

Email – rmaclennan@cne-siar.gov.uk

Tel – 01851 822679

Dundee City Council

Dundee City Council

Dundee City Council has a number of strands to their electric vehicle activity.  There has been a doubling of the number of registered electric vehicles in Dundee since the campaign launch. 

EV charging infrastructure – Dundee’s air quality is poor. Funding from Transport Scotland allowed the council to install chargers for their new fleet of zero-emission electric vehicles. Many chargers were made public to aid EV uptake in area. The council have installed 56 chargers in Dundee so far.

EV charging hubs – Over 50% of households in Dundee do not have the capability to charge electric vehicles at home. One way to address this has been the provision of hubs of rapid chargers in the heart of communities near shops, cafes etc. as a solution. These have also supported the growing number of plug in vehicles including taxis that need quick top up.  14 rapids and 8 fast chargers, battery storage, solar canopy and smart mobility solutions are being installed.  

Taxi industry – Taxis are the biggest road users in the city. Support and encourage uptake of EVs in taxi industry to have 10% of city taxis fully electric by end 2017 (achieved). Between Sept-Nov 2017 there was an 18% increase in electric taxis.

Drive Dundee Electric campaign – Campaign to increase EV uptake in area. Raise awareness of the emerging technology, promote incentives and highlight benefits by attaining, hosting or exhibiting at events, engagements with businesses/public and interacting on social media.

Infrastructure - Infrastructure needed to be seamless and without borders so Dundee City Council have worked with surrounding local authorities to install chargers outside Dundee. 

Parking – Free parking throughout Dundee is provided to drivers of electric vehicles

Other - the decision has been made to continue to provide free electricity for charging after the one initial period of providing free charging required as part of Scottish Government funding criteria.


EV Infrastructure – Over £1.5 million from Transport Scotland

Hubs and taxi - £1.86 million OLEV with £610k for taxi.

Campaign - 10k Air Quality fund and 45k Transport Scotland

Project Barriers

Taxis - Some councils may have policies in place that may prevent uptake of EVs. Dundee made the decision to redraft policy to give incentives for taxis to switch to EVs while avoiding penalising existing ICE taxis. One issue that’s preventing a bigger uptake is the lack of range of EVs that suit taxi criteria.

Charging hubs – There have been some delays at the building stage of EV charging hubs inclulding:

  • Delays with the electrical infrastructure going in
  • Some foundation works and other site preparation caused delay.
  • Clashes with other work to be done on site eg. ScotRail needing to close a car park while work on  the rail platform was taking place. 

Campaign – The success of the project has required behaviour change on a mass scale and for many people considering the purchase of an electric vehicle isn't something they're ready to consider yet.


Dundee City Council

Outcomes and next steps

Campaign - The focus is to have the campaign information reaching more people.

  • Public events
  • Engagement with car garages and schools.
  • Complete hub construction.
  • Work with car franchises to turn hubs into mini experience centre.

Further information and contact details

Rebecca.Wallace@Dundeecity.gov.uk 01382 432711, Marketing/Communications Officer – Drive Dundee Electric

Gary.McRae@Dundeecity.gov.uk 01382 432737, Dundee City Council Fleet Manager

Fraser.Crichton@Dundeecity.gov.uk 01382 432779, Dundee City Council Fleet Manager

Dundee City Council

Glasgow City Council and the EU RUGGEDISED Smart City Project

RUGGEDISED is a smart city project funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. It brings together three lighthouse cities: Rotterdam, Glasgow and Umeå and three follower cities: Brno, Gdansk and Parma to test, implement and accelerate the smart city model across Europe.

Working in partnership with businesses and research centres these six cities will demonstrate how to combine ICT, e-mobility and energy solutions to design smart, resilient cities for all. This means improving the quality of life of citizens, reducing the environmental impact of activities and creating a stimulating environment for sustainable economic development.

RUGGEDISED in Glasgow will focus on the development of a Smart Street. The street is located in the city centre along a section of George Street and Duke Street, in an area of mixed residential, academic, community, retail, and industrial buildings. It will seek to address the challenges Glasgow faces from ageing infrastructure, fuel poverty and air pollution by integrating planned regeneration and development with smart city capabilities.  The project is being delivered in partnership with Glasgow City Council, Siemens, Scottish Power, University of Strathclyde, GHA, Transport Scotland and Tennent Caledonian Brewery.  The Smart Street will include: district heating, an innovative roof mounted solar PV canopy, ducted wind turbines, energy arbitrage, power storage, EV charging, and smart grid controls. 

E-Charging Infrastructures

  • Surplus power storage in EV charging hub
  • Innovative connection to renewables and storage  
  • Intelligent LED street lights with integrated e-vehicle charging functionality  


Renewable Energy Storage

  • EV-charging hub battery storage in car parks 
  • Optimisation of the integration of near-site renewable energy sources (RES)

Further information and contact details

Gavin Slater, Glasgow City Council

Email – Gavin.Slater@Glasgow.gov.uk  

Tel – 0141 287 8347

HITRANS - Smart Peripheral and Remote Airports 2020 (SPARA2020)

Smart Peripheral and Remote Airports (SPARA) is a 3 year, €2.4 million Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) Programme Project, co-funded by the ERDF, designed to address the challenges facing remote & peripheral airports. These airports are economically vital, providing accessibility & connectivity to residents; however, with low traffic volume, strong seasonality challenges and ageing aircrafts, these airports suffer relatively higher costs of operating safely & compliantly and inevitably require state subsidy/intervention. SPARA aims to maximise revenues at these remote & peripheral airports and increase their self-sufficiency and resilience long-term.  HITRANS is the lead partner of SPARA, with other Scottish partners including the University of the Highlands and Islands and Robert Gordon University.

Mindful of aviation’s carbon footprint two work strands have been developed to foster more sustainable energy use in the sector.  Low carbon fuel airport surface access demonstrator trials are being developed by HITRANS in partnership with their member Councils, Energy Savings Trust and Highlands and Islands Airports at airports in the Highlands and Islands.  These are designed to be low carbon exemplar projects on how to decarbonise links from the airport to its local population centre.   HITRANS are working on a project to introduce electric taxis at Inverness Airport. Inverness Taxis have been awarded a 7-year contract at Inverness Airport and are committed to lowering their carbon emissions long-term by moving to a fully electric fleet. Working with HIAL and The Highland Council, HITRANS are supporting rapid charge point installations at Inverness Airport and in Inverness City Centre to support the feasibility of adding electric taxi vehicles to the area. Installations are expected in February 2018 ready for electric vehicles to launch at the airport. Electric car clubs are also due to launch at HIAL airports with fully electric vehicles expected at Inverness, Stornoway and Kirkwall Airports over the next few months. Dynamo Taxis are planning to visit Inverness in 2018 to offer local taxi drivers the opportunity to test drive their wheelchair accessible electric taxi. Local taxi operators and drivers from surrounding areas will be contacted to arrange test drives to maximise this opportunity, with several companies already showing an interest in trialling the EV.


HITRANS - G-PaTRA – Green Passenger Transport in Rural Areas

HITRANS is also involved in a North Sea Region project titled ‘G-PaTRA’ and led by Robert Gordon University, looking at green passenger transport in rural areas. The key objectives of the project are to:

  • Enhance the capacity for authorities to reduce CO2 from remote, rural and Island transport by embedding more zero emission vehicles in rural transport systems and improving, optimising and better integrating available passenger resources.
  • Identify green, innovative, integrated transport services and new organisational and ownership models to allow transport operators to deliver on the project aims of providing a sustainable rural public transport network.

HITRANS are leading on a work package that seeks to accelerate the use of zero emission vehicles and vessels, involving the implementation of a specific lighthouse project and two business case studies. The lighthouse project involves a new scheduled bus route using an electric bus and will be used to demonstrate and evaluate innovative low carbon transport solutions in a rural context.

Further information and contact details

Jayne Westbrook, HITRANS

Email – jayne.westbrook@hitrans.org.uk

Tel – 01463 719004

Other resources

Urban Foresight's EV City Casebook (2014) highlights world changing ideas that will shape the future of electric vehicles, profiling 50 big ideas with the potential to dramatically increase global electric vehicle adoption.

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