Nicholsons Sustainable Fleet

Transport remains the largest emitting sector in the UK, responsible for 34% of carbon emissions in 2022 (Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, 2022). The rise in electric vehicles is a positive step towards a cleaner transport sector; Nicholsons has so far purchased 7 electric vehicles and has ambitions to expand this further. However, current mileage range and charging point limitations mean that electric vehicles are not always a viable option. This is why Nicholsons is diversifying their fleet of cars and vans and exploring other sustainable and innovative ways to power them.

In early 2023, Nicholsons started trialling a renewable fuel source. HVO, hydrotreated vegetable oil, is a fossil free paraffinic diesel, meaning it can be used as a direct replacement for traditional diesel without requiring engine modifications. It is produced using waste products including used cooking oils, residue fat from food industries, and tall oil byproducts. Unlike petrol and diesel which have a finite quantity, HVO uses renewable sources that will not run out.

So far, one third of Nicholsons vehicles are successfully running on HVO, with a further 57% of vehicles eligible to make the transition in the coming years. HVO brings a 90% reduction in carbon emissions compared to diesel (Derv), the predominate fuel source used previously. HVO also produces up to 84% less particulate matter and up to 27% less nitrogen oxide, both large contributors to poor air quality and the development of respiratory diseases (Nationwide Fuels, n.d.). Despite the higher cost of HVO, it reduces wear on engines, promoting the longevity of vehicles and reducing maintenance and running costs.

Other uses of HVO include in Nicholsons own plant vehicles and machinery (3 x excavators and a 6t dumper). Despite a reduction in power output of approximately 10% this has not had a noticeable impact upon productivity. Over the last few years, Nicholsons has switched to rechargeable battery-operated hand tools, in the larger part, which traditionally run on petrol. Benefits include lower vibrations, quieter operation, and reduced environmental impact. Nicholsons has also influenced one of their main suppliers of plant vehicles to use HVO in all of their equipment raising awareness of alternative fuels within the landscaping industry.

There is a long way to go for the UK to fully adopt a low carbon transport sector. Nicholsons recognises the crucial importance of cutting emissions for the future of the planet. They have ambitious goals to have all vehicles running on electric or HVO fuel and hope to influence others by showcasing the benefits of more sustainable fuel options.

Isuzu 4 x 4 D Max (Diesel now running on HVO Fuel)

Ford Transit van (Diesel now running on HVO fuel)

Renault Kangoo (100% electric van)

Skoda Enyak (100% electric car)

Land Rover Defender (diesel, now running on HVO fuel)

Department for Energy Security & Net Zero. 2022. 2022 UK greenhouse gas emissions, provisional figures. [Online]. [Accessed 28 July 2023]. Available from:

Nationwide Fuels. n.d. What is HVO Fuel? [Online]. [Accessed 28 July 2023]. Available from:,greenhouse%20gas%20emissions%20on%20combustion.