Yorkshire Ambulance Service - Fleet Transition

The Yorkshire Ambulance Service is in the early stages of introducing zero emission vehicles to its fleet, including the purchase of two Symbio fuel cell range extender electric vans.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service - Fleet Transition

The Yorkshire Ambulance Service is in early stages of introducing zero emission vehicles to its fleet, including the purchase of two Symbio fuel cell range extender electric vans.

First Deployment:

2 x Symbio Arcola Kangoo ZE H2 (electric van with hydrogen fuel cell range extender)

Second Deployment:

1 x ULEMCo Peugeot Boxer van converted to hydrogen diesel dual-fuel

The Fleet

The Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) has a diverse fleet of around 1,200 vehicles including cars, vans and a small number of HGVs, as well as around 380 front line ambulances. The typical daily mileage can vary significantly between different sections of the fleet. Ancillary vans are typically used for cleaning services and cover 50-150 miles per day, whilst A&E vehicles can be required to travel in excess of 400 miles in a single shift. In recent years, YAS has utilised various sources of funding to add low emission vehicles to their fleet, including two Symbio Arcola electric vans (with fuel cell range extenders) and one ULEMCo hydrogen diesel dual-fuel van. Funding has also been used to install solar panels on the roofs of conventional ambulances in order to recharge the batteries which power auxiliary equipment such as defibrillators and communication devices.

The Ambition

YAS is aiming to have 60-70% of its fleet consist of zero-emissions (ZE) vehicles by 2028. At the start of this transition, it is prioritising the upgrade of vehicles weighing under 3.5t. The next stage of ZE vehicle deployment will focus on patient transport services, which primarily consists of minibuses and cars.
The Transition

YAS is currently in the early stages of introducing ZE vehicles to its fleet, including the purchase of two Symbio fuel cell range extender electric vans. To support the procurement of these Symbio vans, YAS received £110k of Government funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

The technology behind these vehicles works in a similar way to a standard battery electric vehicle, but with a hydrogen fuel cell on hand to recharge the battery when required. This helps to extend the range of a vehicle from roughly 105 miles to around 220 miles, fulfilling a key requirement for the YAS fleet going forward. The vans are charged using on-site charge points and refuelled with hydrogen at the ITM Power hydrogen refuelling station in Rotherham.

Further to the two ZE vans, YAS recently converted a diesel van into a hydrogen-diesel dual-fuel van, originally manufactured by Peugeot and then converted to utilise hydrogen by ULEMCo. Funding to support this came via the Low Emission Freight Trial.

The Experience

Overall, the two Symbio vans and ULEMCo van have been working well technically, but there have been issues around the cultural shift they will inevitably create. The vehicles have been kept off the road at times due to delays with maintenance caused by a lack of nearby mechanics with the relevant training. There have also been issues with staff not always refuelling the vans at the hydrogen refuelling station, which is an issue that can also be addressed with further training. All of the issues faced so far have been addressed and overcome and have not deterred us from our goal of switching to a ZE fleet.

We are committed to moving away from diesel and working towards a zero-emission fleet. Our fleet contains a range of vehicles that cover large distances every day, so finding clean alternatives that are suitable for such a large operation does present a challenge. There are some great solutions available though, and the extra range provided by having a fuel cell range extender on the Symbio electric vans makes them an ideal zero-emission vehicle choice. We have run into some issues whilst operating the vans, but overall the experience has been positive and the drivers have spoken positively about them. We are now looking forward to adding more zero-emission vehicles to the fleet and are involved in an innovative project, which aims to develop the first-ever zero-emission front line ambulance.

Alexis Percival - Environmental & Sustainability Manager
Developed in
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