Supply issues are slowly easing as the fleet market looks to dominate EV sales by the middle of the decade. And it won’t be just the regular car brands taking to the streets
Eighty per cent. That’s the figure that the BVRLA estimates the fleet sector will be responsible for in the UK’s total EV sales by 2025. There’s no question that company cars in their various forms are responsible for a major part of the rise in EV sales, but that success hasn’t been mirrored in the retail market. However, there is evidence to suggest that situation is slowly starting to change and, in turn, that might mean positive news for fleet managers transitioning their fleets over to EVs.
While a handful of EVs still have long lead times, slowly but surely supply is generally improving with some car manufacturers beginning to use varying forms of tactical discounts in showrooms to engage retail buyers with pre-owned EVs.
To help push that drive, manufacturers and dealer groups are also increasingly looking towards charging manufacturers such as us at Ohme to package deals to provide chargers alongside their EVs – something we haven’t seen since the earliest EV models to the market. On the face of things, this enables charger manufacturers to give dealers assistance to qualify customers, but has the added benefit of presenting the retailer/salesperson as a trusted knowledge source, removing the worry of shopping for a charger for the customer. In an age where customer service reviews (both internal and external) can have notable consequences – both financial and reputational – that ability to be able to present a positive outcome for the customer is not to be underestimated.
Make no mistake, these newcomers aren’t brands to watch in the future, they’re brands to watch right now – BYD overtook Tesla for global EV production last year by more than 500,000 units
News of new entrants
Alongside this scenario is the continued growth in the EV market of new companies such as BYD, Great Wall with the Ora Funky Cat and MG with its massively popular ‘5’ and ‘4’ models. While MG is obviously more established in the UK than its other Chinese counterparts, none should be viewed lightly in their ambitions or in the competition that they represent, both now and in the future.
Not so long ago, introducing a car manufacturer to a famously conservative UK car-buying public was certainly not an enviable task. Most recently, Infiniti has come and gone. But now, that boom in EV sales is enabling newcomers to get a foothold – Polestar is going from strength to strength with a very tempting line up of future models, as is Genesis.
Yes, both of those are premium brands, but there’s a good argument to suggest that makes things harder, not easier. So, with that in mind, it would be a very brave person to bet against the likes of BYD and GWM, given the quality of EVs that they’ve already introduced to the market. Make no mistake, these newcomers aren’t brands to watch in the future, they’re brands to watch right now – BYD overtook Tesla for global EV production last year by more than 500,000 units.
All of that might be very interesting for EVs in the fleet sector, but any fleet manager might be rightly asking why any of this is relevant for them? All of those factors will slowly start to increase competition for sales, especially so of EVs amongst car manufacturers – both the established brands and those newcomers. And in turn that competition will have a knock-on effect towards fleet managers or, more precisely, all of those car manufacturers' attitudes towards those fleet managers.
Just as that supply increases – and then pressure on making sales at all levels (retail and corporate) also goes up – so more and more manufacturers are likely to be returning to fleets once more to boost their sales, particular so of EVs. And rather than having to go knocking on the door of car manufacturers pleading for supply, those fleet managers who have already moved their fleets over to EVs in whatever form, might soon find themselves in rather high demand indeed.
Peter McDonald is mobility director at Ohme. Prior to his current role, he spent two decades working for automotive manufacturers including Nissan, SEAT and the wider Volkswagen Group.