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Due to essential maintenance, the following systems will be unavailable from 6.00pm on Monday 2 October until 8.00am on Tuesday 3 October: our online council tax, business rates and housing benefit services, and our welfare assistance form. You will also not be able to register to pay council tax online, make a change of address for council tax or cancel single person discount. You are still able to make a payment during this time. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Try before you buy scheme

As part of our Climate Emergency response, we are offering small and medium sized businesses based in County Durham the chance to borrow an electric van for up to three weeks, to help make the decision about switching to electric.

What the scheme offers

You will be loaned an electric van for one to three weeks for exclusive business use. There is no charge, but you must provide your own insurance and sufficiently charge the vehicle. The scheme is part of our Climate Emergency Response Plan to help encourage businesses to radically reduce their carbon emissions. 

Three different van types will be available, and you will be able to charge them at public charge points around the county, or at your business or home using a standard electricity socket.

We will be measuring the carbon emissions saved by the scheme. At the end of your loan period, we will keep in touch with you to find out about your experience and your plans once you have had a chance to see the difference.

Who can sign up

To qualify you must:

  • be a small or medium sized enterprise with a base in County Durham
  • currently use a petrol or diesel van for business 
  • have licensed and insured driver(s) employed by the business
  • be looking to make the switch away from fossil fuelled vehicles soon
  • have an energy audit from BEEP or be willing to have one
  • take responsibility for the van while in your possession and agree to the terms and conditions which will be sent to you when you sign up

The benefits of joining the scheme

Electric vehicles are better for the environment and will help reduce your carbon emissions. A key part of this is helping you understand what driving an electric vehicle is like, and what it might take to make that step.


The move to electric vehicles is not all about CO2 emissions, but it is a big part. An electric vehicle will have zero emissions at the point of use, but some emissions linked to the electricity used to power the vehicle. If we charge using grid electricity, CO2 emissions will be at least 50% less than a fossil fuel powered vehicle. And, as the National Grid becomes lower carbon, due to more renewable energy in the mix, the benefit of an electric vehicle will become greater.

A diesel Vivaro van will emit about 230 grams of CO2 per mile, a Vivaro-E, charged with grid electricity, will emit about 112 grams of CO2 per mile. A Nissan E-NV200 could be as low as 63 grams of CO2 per mile.

Cost of fuel

Filling up the tank of a fossil fuelled vehicle can be an expensive part of any work week. 

Vauxhall claim the diesel Vivaro-E can run at 53 miles per gallon, or about 11.8 miles per litre, this would cost about 11p per mile, just on fuel. The Vivaro-E is likely to drive about 2.6 to 2.7 miles for every kWh of electricity it uses. A kWh of electricity varies tends to cost about 15p to 25p depending on your supplier.

You may have to charge at a commercial charge point, that could supply for free, or up to 39p per kWh. The most expensive chargers would fuel the vehicle at about 13p per mile, but you should not have to use these very often, particularly if you can charge wherever the vehicle is stored overnight.

There are also other chargers that will fill the battery at cheaper rates. Charging can be with a standard three point plug as well in a garage or outside a house or office priced on your usual domestic/business tariff but may take longer to charge.

Air quality

An electric vehicle has no emissions when you drive it. So, wherever you go, you won't have an exhaust producing harmful particulates, Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), Carbon Monoxide (CO) and other emissions have serious impacts both on the environment and public health. By driving an electric vehicle instead of a fossil fuelled vehicle, you will be contributing to a cleaner environment.


Electric vehicles are very quiet. You may notice the reduction in noise compared to driving a diesel vehicle. This can make driving more comfortable, and over the long term, help reduce levels of stress when driving. 

How to sign up

Register for the Try Before You Buy scheme. The project will be available until September 2023.


Contact us
Try Before You Buy Scheme