When it comes to recognising the role and value of EVs, fleets are ahead of the curve, says head of Go Ultra Low, Poppy Welch.

There is no greater proof of the power of fleet than discovering 68% of electric vehicle (EV) registrations* in 2020 were courtesy of company cars and fleets. But with the direction of travel now set to end the sale of new ICE vehicles by 2030, how do we ensure that this voracious appetite for EVs isn’t tempered by the broader trends of a shrinking company car parc and reduced company mileages?

For Go Ultra Low, the answer is three-fold. Firstly, EVs are good for business. In a recent BEIS survey**, 80% of the public said they were either fairly concerned (45%) or very concerned (35%) about climate change, and this is having an impact on consumer decision-making.

Decarbonising fleets, therefore, should represent just one part of your organisation’s operational commitment to carbon reduction. This is rapidly becoming a business norm, rather than a point of difference, so regardless of whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, your customers will be demanding more demonstrations of sustainability. When a company such as British Gas orders 1,000 electric vans in one year, you know the tide is turning.

Secondly, switching to an EV will save both employers and employees money. When considered on a whole-life cost basis, electric vehicles are cheaper to run than equivalent ICE vehicles. Furthermore, the well-promoted savings from Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) taxation ensures significantly more money stays in the pocket of your employees.

Yet despite this, we continue to hear that a lot of fleet managers are still running their choice lists on capital costs or purchase price of vehicles. This needs to change and the resulting increase in EV company cars could play a critical role in reducing national emissions. The BVRLA has already proven that average company car emissions are 18% cleaner than a grey fleet car.

Thirdly, we need to ensure companies of all sizes and budgets are given clear, honest, pragmatic and unbiased information on making the switch to EVs and how to manage that switch. Barriers such as cost and choice are rapidly eroding with the release of more capable and more affordable models. There are now more than 100 EV models on sale, while start-ups including Rivian and Arrival are accelerating progress and choice in the CV sector, too.

That doesn’t mean things will be easy. Migrating seasoned drivers from one powertrain to another represents a huge behavioural shift, and not everybody will be ready. That’s okay.

For companies, it’s first about understanding the usage rates of your vehicles; exploring what tasks and therefore what percentage of your fleet could be electrified in the first instance. Who are the employees that could support this first wave to improve awareness and enable broader business buy-in? All businesses should be conscious of unwarily encouraging the so-called negativity effect: a behavioural science tenet that shows how things of a more negative nature have a greater effect on one’s psychological state than positive experiences. In other words, pushing employees into a behaviour change they aren’t prepared for could put your EV fleet aspirations several steps back.

If unsure, don’t forget the value of plug-in hybrids as a stepping-stone technology. Most modern PHEVs have an electric range in excess of 30 miles – more than the average commute – so will allow people to get used to EV driving, the various ways to charge and to discover that the UK already has more than 37,000 public charge point connectors.

It’s clear the future is EVs, but the company car represents the most effective way of driving the UK’s swift transition.

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