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Future electric vehicles for ambulances (FEVA)

04 February 2013
Volume 5 · Issue 2


The Future Electric Vehicles for Ambulances (FEVA) project is a proof of concept study to explore the feasibility of introducing electric vehicles as smaller, lighter and more compact solo responder vehicles as part of an ambulance fleet. The limited use of electric vehicles in the ambulance service is largely due to the initial cost and performance (journey duration and charging) of the battery technology. In the next 10 years it is likely that the capabilities of electric vehicles will significantly improve to the point where they will become a viable and fully operational option. The Nissan NV200 vehicle was used as a concept platform to represent the size of future electric vehicles for the delivery of solo response emergency and pre-hospital care. A full-size interior mock-up was built using the knowledge gained from previous research projects (Smart Pods and CURE). It was taken to five NHS Ambulance Trusts to firstly explore expectations for low carbon electric vehicles including range and performance and fuel economy / taxation benefits; and secondly evaluate a mobile mock-up of a FEVA interior for solo responders.

The National Health Services (NHS) accounts for 5 % of all road traffic in England, with staff, patients and visitors travelling over 20 billion kilometres annually by car (GrEAN, 2011). Changes in UK Governmental policy are encouraging a shift away from emergency care and towards urgent (pre-hospital) care by providing assessment, diagnosis and treatment for patients in their own homes. These changes are increasing the number of solo responders with enhanced clinical skills (Department of Health, 2006).

Under the Climate Change Act (2008) the UK Government has implemented legislation to regulate and reduce carbon emissions. In order for these initiatives to be successful, low carbon transport must become a genuine, viable and attractive option for services and businesses as well as ordinary citizens. The Green Environment Ambulance Network (GrEAN) is a network of UK ambulance services working to reduce the collective carbon footprint of the ambulance Trusts. They have been investigating alternative fuels for future ambulance fleets including electric vehicle technology. Ambulance fleets have considered the aerodynamics, weight and fuel efficiency of the NHS vehicles with an ‘Eco Driving’ initiative finding that Trusts could save up to £1.5 million per annum by managing driving behaviour leading to reduced fuel use, fewer accidents and lower maintenance costs, without sacrificing the standard of care (GrEAN, 2011).

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