TWO of North Lanarkshire Council’s £24,000 electric cars have each clocked fewer than 300 miles in the first year since they were purchased.
Despite the fleet of 12 Mitsubishi i-MiEV cars costing the public purse a cool £320,000, some of them have barely been used since they were purchased in May 2011, with only four registering more than 4000 miles.
Of the remaining eight vehicles, the furthest travelled by any one has been 1250 miles, an average of less than three-and-a-half miles a day.
The least used pair of carbon-reducing Mitsubishis have clocked up a collective mileage of only 564 miles, a mere 290 and 274 miles each.
However, the council purchased the vehicles knowing that their deployment would be phased in. A decision was taken to purchase them at that time to take advantage of a grant that was available to help with the cost. All 12 cars were delivered within the space of a few days last summer but their use has been phased in due to considerations like staff training and fitting charging bays for the cars.
The vehicles are based at four sites: Dalziel House and the Civic Centre in Motherwell and another sites in Coatbridge and Cumbernauld.
Overall, the 12 cars have travelled 23,049 miles since they were introduced in the hope of helping to reduce NLC’s mileage costs.
Their purchase was funded in part by the council (£108,000), but in majority by a £215,000 Transport Scotland grant.
Eyebrows were raised over the move at the time as North Lanarkshire Council faced making cuts worth £55m.
The council defended the electric cars, saying they will help reduce costs in the long run.
Kenneth Wilson, head of the council’s land services, who operate the pool car scheme, said: “I’m puzzled as to why the Wishaw Press sees a link between the initial cost to the council of these cars – £9000 each – and the number of miles they’ve travelled. No-one buys a car then assesses its value based on the distance covered in its first few months of service; why should we? However, to be clear: we bought the electric cars because they’re reliable, economical and environmentally-friendly. Some have been in service for a year, others less than that. Naturally that means some have covered more miles than others.
“They were never intended to perform long journeys. Their primary purpose is to take staff to and from appointments within the council area. Thus far, they’re performing that function extremely well.
“As to the figures, the initial cost was offset by a £215,000 grant from the Sustainability Carbon Trust. It has been further offset by savings on petrol - it costs just £2 to fully charge each car – road tax, which doesn’t apply to cars with zero emissions, and mileage paid to employees.
“So we regard the purchase of these cars as an investment to be rewarded in terms of savings over time, not in terms of the miles each car covers in its first year of service.”