Housing Associations can now buy low carbon hybrid light commercial vehicles (LCVs) for the same price as a standard diesel vehicle, thanks to a Government initiative.

The Department for Transport is offering to pay the difference between a standard Ford Transit and the hybrid equivalent, through its Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme (LCVPP). The programme was established to help public sector organisations such as central and local government bodies to become early adopters of low carbon vehicles. It has now been extended to cover housing associations.

The Ashwoods Hybrid Transit, produced by Ashwoods Automotive, is the only DfT-approved vehicle in the programme. It is available as a chassis cab, minibus or panel van. Under the LCVPP scheme, DfT provides a subsidy of more than £3,400 per vehicle.

Martin Kadhim, Business Development Director at Ashwoods Automotive, said: “This is a unique opportunity for the Social Housing sector to cut fuel consumption and lower carbon emissions from transport.

“Light commercial vehicles play an important role within any housing association; this is an opportunity to procure a proven environmental technology that delivers a real return on investment.”

The Ashwoods Hybrid Transit is fitted with an award-winning hybrid system that captures wasted energy and uses it to help the engine burn less fuel. It reduces diesel consumption by up to 25%, helping housing associations to lower their fleet fuel bills and reduce carbon emissions.

The van requires no charging, plugging in, or special treatment and can used for any job for which a regular van would be considered.

Ashwoods successfully proved its technology to the DfT over a three year period during which its vehicles covered 4 million miles. Ashwoods provided routine testing and fleet manager feedback from 14 public sector organisations, utilising 138 Hybrid vans.

DfT is only providing subsidies for the first 500 Ashwoods vehicles ordered ' and all orders must be received by March 2013.