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Melbourne Water is hoping to transition to a zero emissions vehicle fleet within 10 years, as part of an ongoing ‘drive’ to be fully carbon neutral by 2030.

The authority has taken delivery of its first two Renault Zoe electric passenger vehicles, which procurement Manager Rod Clifford said was the start of a bold transition of the entire fleet.

“From today, Melbourne Water will no longer purchase any additional combustion engine vehicles where a zero emissions electric vehicle alternative is available,” he said.

“By 2023 all our passenger vehicles will be zero emissions closely followed all our light commercial vehicles, all at no additional cost to the community we serve.”

“We expect to purchase another three zero emissions cars this year and ramp up our rollout quickly from there.”

The commitment, a first for any Australian water authority, comes as Melbourne Water takes delivery of its first two electric Renault Zoe passenger vehicles. Melbourne Water Procurement Manager Rod Clifford said the arrival of the cars was a huge step in the utility’s greenhouse gas emission reduction pledge.

“Our existing fleet of petrol and diesel vehicles travel around 11 million km per year and emits approximately 2752 tonnes of CO2, so we’re committed to reducing these emissions, eventually all the way to zero,” he said.

“We’re excited to take delivery of our first zero emissions cars, as it means we only have 362 to go!”

One of Melbourne Water’s new zero emissions Renault ZOEs

Mr Clifford said the ambitious plan was not without a few challenges.

“The biggest hurdle for us as an early adopter is acquiring zero emissions dual cab utes, as petrol and diesel utes currently make up two thirds of our fleet.”

“Electric only utility vehicles are not yet available, but they are coming. We will be purchasing these aggressively from 2022 and we expect Melbourne Water will be one of the first companies
to order these types of vehicles in Australia.”

Melbourne Water staff will be trained to use the new zero emissions vehicles, which have different driving characteristics to traditional combustion engine cars.

“Driving an electric vehicle for the first time is a unique experience, due to the lack of engine noise and the immediate acceleration, so we will be training our staff to be aware of these differences.”

“During the transition to a zero emissions fleet, Melbourne Water staff will be encouraged to always book one of the new vehicles over a combustion engine vehicle if one is available.”

The zero emissions fleet commitment reflects the directive from the Minister for Water for the Victorian water sector to be carbon neutral by 2030 and supports Melbourne Water’s status as a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact.

“Melbourne Water is all about enhancing life and liveability through healthy people, healthy places and a healthy environment, so a bold transition to a zero emission fleet makes sense for us.”