Ford launches electric van drive in Brixton

Levi Roots (left) with Stafford Geohagen and a Ford E-Transit outside Healthy Eaters on Electric Avenue

Ford is helping Brixton businesses to combat climate change loaning them an E-Transit van.

Local businesses will get the chance to experience one through a loan van they can be reserve for their commercial vehicle needs through 2023.

The initiative, which was launched today (7 December) in Electric Avenue is backed by Brixton local Levi Roots who is setting out to become more sustainable and decarbonise his own business logistics.

Leading the way at Electric Avenue are Healthy Eaters and K&N Fresh Meat Ltd who, alongside Levi Roots, are encouraging the wider community to make the most of the Ford E-Transit community vehicle and take part in test drives offered to the traders at the market this week.

They are rallying their trading community “to help make Electric Avenue fully electric once again”.

Ford research has revealed that more than half (51%) of van drivers across the UK think the current charging infrastructure is not ready to support electric commercial vehicles​ – one of the biggest drawbacks to EV adoption.

But it also found enthusiasm to make the move, with 56% of those surveyed agreeing that their business productivity could be improved by an electric van​, thanks to lower running costs, features such as the ability to keep an eye on any required maintenance on vehicles (18%) and charge during down time at home (12%).

Wider barriers to adoption include: 

More than three quarters of van-driving business owners, traders, and employees believe they would have difficulty finding a parking space, loading bay or a depot where they could charge

Some 29% believe the lack of appropriate vehicle charging stations has a negative impact on business productivity and profitability 

Charging speed is also another barrier to entry, with 30% of van drivers believing there are not enough fast-charging options available.

Ford is calling on the UK government and local councils to increase their spending on electric vehicle infrastructure, as more businesses and consumers make the switch ahead of the ban on new fossil-fuel-driven vehicles in 2035.

The company said supporting small and medium sized businesses on the journey towards an electric future is not only important for the environment, but also for the economy. Small businesses contributing £2 trillion in turnover and employ 44% of the British workforce. 

Stafford Geohagen, owner of Healthy Eaters, said: “We’ve been a staple of the Brixton community for almost 20 years, and taking these steps to reducing air pollution makes me incredibly proud.

“As locals, we owe it to our community, current customers, and new customers to look after each other. I hope we can become one of the first markets to go fully electric and set an example for other markets nationwide”   

K & N Fresh Meat Ltd said: “We were so surprised at how easy it was to adapt to using an electric van for our logistics.

“As a purveyor of the best meats and groceries, the environment is so important to us, and knowing we’re taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint means we’re protecting the environment for years to come.”  

Mandy Dean, Ford of Britain’s commercial vehicle director, said: “Ford has been the UK’s market leader in the light commercial vehicle space for 56 years, supporting large businesses on a national scale as well as the small and medium-size businesses making up the fabric of our society.”

“Many of these local businesses have been serving customers for decades, spanning multiple generations, and probably with the support of a Transit in the background.

“It is vital that these businesses continue to thrive as we shift towards an all-electric future together – we’re ready to support them every step of the way and are calling on councils and governments to get behind the switch too.”

Levi Roots said: “As my business continues to grow, I’m always looking for ways to streamline my logistics and keep my business sustainable. The Ford Transit van has been the backbone of market traders for decades, and now the E-Transit has allowed me to reduce my impact on the environment even more.

“The tools that Ford Pro can offer businesses like mine will really help us boom as consumers become more environmentally conscious.”