2021 READER SURVEY
8 Plug-in vehicles are already mainstream
Department for Transport statistics show just 1,880 plug-in vehicles were licensed in the UK at the start of 2001. Just over 10 years later, that fleet has surpassed half a million units and recent tax reforms have meant demand is fleet-weighted. According to the SMMT, two-thirds of BEVs and three-quarters of PHEVs registered during the first eight months of 2021 went to fleet and business users. This is reflected by the responses.
Although many fleets are used to driving these vehicles, longer range and faster charging times mean they have become as vital a part of the organisation as their petrol and diesel counterparts. Half (49.2%) of respondents provide them to job-need drivers.
Use cases for electric commercial vehicles are still limited; batteries are heavy, which means there’s a trade-off between range and payload, which is already lower than a diesel van. Renault and Stellantis will both launch the first hydrogen fuel cell vans within the next two years, complementing their city-focused battery-electric models. With hundreds of miles of range, short refuelling times and only water vapour at the tailpipe, hydrogen could find favour with commercial vehicle fleets before it becomes common for cars.
9 Drivers want to go electric
Some of the concerns about electric cars are familiar. Limited range and charging, and the higher up-front cost, still top the list. However, only 4.3% of organisations said their employees weren’t interested in making the switch.
Results vary depending on organisations’ electrification plans. Those who were actively looking to phase out combustion engines were less likely to be worried about range (58.3% of responses) than those without plans in place (68.9%). However, they were more likely to be worried about unclear incentives from government (25.0%) than fleets without electrification deadlines in place (15.6%).
10 Straightforward electric vehicle charging is a priority
Convenient charging is a cornerstone of effective electric vehicle deployment. A third of those surveyed (35.2%) require employees to have a chargepoint at home if they are taking an electric company car. Almost two thirds (64.8%) have charge points at work, and only a handful of respondents said they have no plans to offer this.
Home and workplace charging are important for keeping costs down. Public charge points can cost up to 69p/kWh, compared to a nationwide average of 5p/kWh for an off-peak domestic tariff. However, most fleet operators (78.3%) allow drivers to use public charge points and only 21.3% of them said they limit usage to specific networks, or cap mileage rates to encourage cheaper charging. Convenience counts.
Lesley Slater // chief commercial officer // Athlon UK
The survey reflects positively that many fleet managers are early adopters of plug-in vehicle usage, but wider adoption isn’t without challenges. Business models need to change in order to better accommodate electrification – this isn’t just about a switch in fuel, it is about adopting sustainable business processes to support environmental and financial goals. Apprehension around the charging network and EV charging time are still barriers to full adoption. The recent news from the COP26 conference is encouraging and with Government targets firmly in place for a net zero future – changes in infrastructure and the accessibility and reliability of charging stations looks to improve – this should in turn improve consumer confidence in EV. It’s also clear from the survey there is a long way to go in the adoption of broader mobility budgets and further investment in a reliable, cost-effective public transport system remains a crucial target.
The role of the leasing company goes beyond just the procurement and funding of electric vehicles. At Athlon we are dedicated to influencing change and supporting all businesses sectors on their journey to full EV. As we see more drivers moving towards EV salary sacrifice and the role that grey fleets still play in supporting business travel, it’s important that this education goes beyond the board room and the fleet decision- makers across the whole business. It’s also clear from the survey that there is a long way to go in the adoption of broader mobility budgets.