New electric bin wagons which cost half a million pounds each were off York’s roads for up to 26 days a month several times last year due to technical issues.
The two HGVs were not operational for a combined total of 481 days from January 2021 to November 2022, data from a freedom of information (FOI) request shows.
City of York Council bought the fully electric vehicles in 2020 as part of their bid to reduce carbon emission from their fleet.
Each vehicle was off the road for around 35 per cent of the 23 month period.
There was just one month – November 2021 – when both vehicles were on the road every day.
York resident and democracy campaigner Gwen Swinburn submitted the FOI request after noticing she saw the vehicles only “very occasionally”.
The issue was raised by Cllr Pete Kilbane, who said the lorrys cut out during wet conditions, during a meeting this week.
Head of environmental services Ben Grabham said there had been “a few reliability issues” with the vehicles, but that they were now back in service and operating “absolutely fine” after refits by the manufacturer.
The cost of hiring temporary bin wagons while the electric ones were out of service had been met by the manufacturer, Mr Grabham added.
In 2020, the council also bought another 10 lorries which meet Euro 6 lower emissions standards – which were expected to reduce fuel costs and pollution output by about 16 per cent.
The council is upgrading its fleet as part of its bid to become carbon neutral by 2030.
Director of transport, environment and planning James Gilchrist told a meeting of the economy and place scrutiny committee: “I think the reason we bought two – and not all – of the fleet as electric vehicles is for exactly that point.
“They are a pilot and ‘lessons learned’ piece, rather than going fully electric for HGVs in one fell swoop.”
It comes after independent councillor Mark Warters raised concerns about smaller electric council vehicles bought by the council being “hidden” at depots.
The council said earlier this month that there had been a delay with installing the charging infrastructure.
Updating councillors on the latest figures, director of transport, environment and planning James Gilchrist said there were still 22 vehicles waiting in storage due to the delay, while 16 were on the road.
Mr Gilchrist said: “The idea was that the vehicles would arrive at the same time as the charging infrastructure.
“We’ve got about a month gap. You could say, ‘well you shouldn’t have bought the vehicles then.’
“But actually, if we’d waited, the price of electric vehicles is going up at such a rate that they’re already worth more now sitting in the depot than they were when we bought them – the demand for them is significant.”
Correction: When this article was published originally, the main photograph showed Cllr Andrew Waller in front of an electric bin wagon with the caption ‘City of York Council began trialling electric bin wagons in 2018’. The wagon in question was an Electra eStar, which the council did not end up purchasing and does not operate in its fleet. We are happy to make that clear and that the electric bin wagons mentioned in the text are a different brand. Sorry for any confusion caused