By Fraser Clarke 

COUNCILS have spent nearly £1million on electric cars they barely use.

They have lavished £962,442 on just 147 electric vehicles since 2011.

But the vehicles have done only 5,843 miles on average, even though some of them are six years old and most cars do about 8,000 miles per year.

The total mileage for the same cars came in at 859,020, which has led to critics suggesting the councils have not “utilised them to the optimal level”.

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Critics say the low mileage of the electric cars is “another example of local authorities being far too quick to spend taxpayers’ money”.

Some councils have promoted their use of electric vehicles for their zero emissions and green benefits.

However, limited range and storage space, as well as a questionable image, mean the cars come with limitations.

A freedom of information request has revealed Edinburgh Council has a fleet of electric vehicles dating back to 2011. A car purchased in December 2014 for £21,037.91 has done only 5,803 miles, meaning a cost of over £3.50 for each mile it’s covered since it was bought.

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Similarly, it has an electric vehicle purchased in September 2012 for £11,528, which has only done 9,679 miles – a cost of more than £1 per mile.

Aberdeen City Council has four leased cars bought in September 2016 at a cost of £8580.96 each. They have done 262 miles, 418, 1,421 and 1,842 miles respectively.

The city also has a fifth car bought in March 2013 for £11,042.93, which has done 14,219 miles – that’s just over 3,550 miles per year.

Glasgow City Council has 17 electric vehicles, but refused to provide details on the costs of each vehicle. Three of its cars were bought in 2012, with a further 14 taken on lease in 2015.

Benefits of electric cars include zero-emissions, which helps the environment and reduces air pollution. They cut CO2 emissions, and are cheaper to run and maintain.

But critics maintain the councils have not been getting proper use out of their cars.

Moray Council purchased a Peugeot iOn for £27,666 in July 2011, but in the past six years it has only covered 14,112 miles.

Perth and Kinross Council purchased one of its electric vehicles in March 2012 for £12,725 but it has only done 8,570 miles in the past five years.

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Highland Council has a Toyota Prius purchased in November 2016 at a lease cost of £3,286 per year but has yet to cover a single mile.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This is another example of local authorities being far too quick to spend taxpayers’ money before carrying out a thorough examination of what families are getting in return for their taxes.

“Well-intended these schemes may well be, but if the cars are not being utilised to the optimal level, is there really any justification for wasting such a large amount of money on them?

Liam Kerr, transport spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “The Scottish Government hasn’t been shy in lecturing motorists about what they should and shouldn’t drive. And while it’s reasonable enough to promote environmentally-friendly alternatives, how can the SNP expect drivers to take this message on if councils don’t?

“This experiment has come at quite an expense to the taxpayer, and it’s simply not working.”

“One of the most popular electric cars on the market is the Nissan Leaf, which can travel up to 155 miles per charge depending on conditions.

They typically cost £16,680 and take 30 minutes to charge 80per cent of the battery.