Scottish councils ‘squander’ £1 million on electric cars

An electric car charging point at Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture; Ian Georgeson

An electric car charging point at Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture; Ian Georgeson

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SCOTTISH councils have “squandered” nearly one million pounds on electric cars which they barely use.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Scotland’s local councils have lavished £962,442 on just 147 electric vehicles since 2011.

Councils have been quick to introduce electric cars. Picture; Steven Scott Taylor.

Councils have been quick to introduce electric cars. Picture; Steven Scott Taylor.

But the vehicles have done 5,843 on average even though some of them are six years old and most cars do around 8,000 miles per year.

The total mileage for the same cars came in at 859,020 which has led to critics suggesting the councils have not “utilised them to the optimal level.”

Critics say the low mileage of the electric cars is “another example of local authorities being far too quick to spend taxpayers’ money.”

READ MORE: Will electric cars catch on in Scotland?

Some councils have promoted their use of electric vehicles for their zero emissions and green benefits.

However, limited range and storage space as well as questionable image mean the cars come with limitations.

Edinburgh Council have a fleet of electric vehicles dating back to 2011. A car they purchased in December 2014 for £21,037.91 has only done 5,803 miles, meaning a cost of over £3.50 for each mile it’s covered since it was bought.

Similarly, they have an electric vehicle purchased in September 2012 at a cost of £11,528 which has only done 9,679 miles. A cost of over £1 per mile.

Aberdeen City Council have four leased cars bought in September 2016 at a cost of £8580.96 each of which have done 262, 418, 1,421 and 1,842 miles respectively.

They also have a fifth car bought in March 2013 for £11,042.93 which has to date done 14,219, miles, which works out at just over 3,550 miles per year.

Glasgow City Council has 17 electric vehicles but refused to provide details on the costs of each vehicle.

Three of their cars were bought in 2012 with a further 14 taken on lease in 2015.

The most any of their vehicles have done is 13,067 miles with the least coming in at 1,647, and an average mileage of 4,872 per year, well under the UK average of 7,900.

Benefits of electric cars include zero-emissions, which helps the environment and reduces air pollution.

They cut CO2 emissions, and are cheaper to run and maintain, however critics maintain that the councils haven’t been getting proper use out of their cars.

Moray Council purchased a Peugeot iOn at a cost of £27,666 in July 2011, however, in the past six years it’s only done 14,112 miles.

READ MORE: Surge in Scottish drivers plugging into electric cars

Perth and Kinross Council purchased one of their electric vehicles in March 2012 for £12,725 but it has only done 8,570 miles in the past five years.

And Highland Council have a Toyota Prius they purchased in November 2016 at a lease cost of £3,286 per year but has yet to cover a single mile.

Similarly, they have a Nissan Leaf bought in the same month for £4,887 per year but has not done a mile either.

John O’Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This is another example of local authorities being far too quick to spend taxpayers’ money before carrying out a thorough examination of what families are getting in return for their taxes.

“Well-intended these schemes may well be, but if the cars are not being utilised to the optimal level, is there really any justification for wasting such a large amount of money on them?

“Hard-pressed families expect their hard-earned cash to pay for essential services such as adult social care, not to be squandered on ideas that sound nice but don’t deliver.”

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Liam Kerr said: “The Scottish Government hasn’t been shy in lecturing motorists about what they should and shouldn’t drive.

READ MORE: Scotland’s use of electric car charging points doubles

“And while it’s reasonable enough to promote environmentally-friendly alternatives, how can the SNP expect drivers to take this message on if councils don’t?

“This experiment has come at quite an expense to the taxpayer, and it’s simply not working.

“Council funds are scarce due to the decisions of this SNP government and they can ill-afford to be spending on big-ticket items which remain unused.

“Instead of constantly hitting motorists in the pocket and lecturing them on appropriate car choices, the Scottish Government should be finding ways of making this technology work for everyone.”

One of the most popular electric cars on the market is the Nissan Leaf, which can travel up to 155 miles per charge depending on conditions.

They typically cost £16,680 and take 30 minutes to charge 80% of the battery.

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