Addressing the common myths and questions facing fleets.

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Electrified vehicles shift the focus away from gallons and litres of liquid fuel, to kilowatt-hours of electricity – a unit familiar from domestic energy tariffs. Charging networks are moving towards fees per kilowatt-hour to charge, and the Department for Transport is encouraging this as the most transparent way to pay for the energy used.

Similar to a petrol or diesel car, running costs vary between vehicles and depend when and where it is ‘refuelled’. Most vehicle trip computers will provide an efficiency figure in miles per kilowatt-hour (MPkWh), which can be used to calculate the cost per mile as follows (based on a car returning 4.5 miles per kilowatt-hour):

UK average (17.4p/kWh – BEIS average, 2020): 17.4p (electricity cost per kWh) / 4.5MPkWh = 3.9p/mile

Off-peak home charging, Economy 7 tariff (10p/kWh – BEIS average, 2020): 10p (electricity cost per kWh) / 4.5MPkWh = 2.2p/mile

Electric Highway rapid charger (30p/kWh): 30p (electricity cost per kWh) / 4.5MPkWh = 6.6p/mile

HMRC advises a 4p/mile reimbursement rate for BEVs, while PHEVs are treated the same as their petrol or diesel counterparts. Businesses can set their own rates where appropriate.

UK average


Off-peak home charging


Electric Highway rapid charger



The UK’s fleet of licensed light-commercial vehicles has doubled since the end of 2000, to more than four million vehicles, according to Department for Transport data, and rising demand for home delivery services means the market is buoyant. By 2030, newly registered vans will have to have “significant zero-emission capability”, and only electric models will be available five years later.

Although the market for electric vans is small, there is support available. The Plug-in Van Grant covers up to 35% of the cost of a new van with CO2 emissions under 50g/km and an electric range of 60 miles or more. Funding is capped at £3,000 for small vans (with a gross vehicle weight of less than 2,500kg), or £6,000 for large vans (with a GVW between 2,500 and 3,500kg).

In 2019, the law was also changed to enable Category B licence holders to drive alternatively-fuelled vans with a gross vehicle weight of up to 4.25 tonnes without additional training, reducing the administrative burden of electrifying a commercial fleet. The technology doesn’t suit long-distance applications yet – the payload compromises of a large battery are too great – but it can provide cost savings for last-mile deliveries, particularly where congestion charging or pollution mitigation measures are in place.


The National Grid ESO – which operates the UK’s electricity system – maps out potential changes in demand in its annual Future Energy Scenarios reports. Average carbon intensity has already declined 66% in the last decade, equating to a two-thirds reduction in CO2 emissions per mile driven, without any changes to the vehicle itself. Regardless of demand, the company expects to operate a carbon-neutral grid by 2025, and expects no problems supplying the increasingly electric fleet that will follow.

Foundations are also being laid for future energy infrastructure. Since July 2019, all home charging points must be capable of sending and receiving data, some of which will be used to analyse charging habits and inform ongoing development. Manufacturers including Nissan, Renault and Volkswagen are also studying technology which enables cars and vans to supply their stored energy back to the grid, flattening demand spikes. In short, there’s enough capacity to go around, and that energy is becoming greener all the time.

A zero-emissions road transport future calls for action not only from government and motor manufacturers, but from industry suppliers.

Businesses looking to electrify their fleets need critical data insights to help them make the right decisions at the right times – both around EV adoption and for their ongoing management.

Telematics solutions are currently taking centre stage, helping shape cost-effective EV strategies. Current innovations include planning reports to identify the fossil fuel vehicles that could be replaced with EV alternatives, based on their daily mileages.

Workflow planning can also be optimised with access to real time battery levels and remaining driving ranges for every vehicle, while on the road, mapped charging infrastructure means charging points can be pinpointed via drivers’ sat navs.

R&D continues apace with recent software developments including charger connection reports to ensure charging occurs when tariffs are most favourable, and just before vehicles are needed for operation.

The evolution of such EV innovations will prove pivotal if we are to meet our collective e-mobility ambitions.

Richard Parker EV specialist, Webfleet Solutions E: M: 0208 822 3605

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