GOING ELECTRIC WITH EASE
David Butters, head of B2B at E.ON Drive, explains how his company can deliver a one-stop-shop when it comes to getting fleets EV-ready
E.ON understands what other fleets are going through
We’re a large fleet ourselves, with 1,500 commercial vehicles, as well as more than 500 company car drivers. In the process of electrifying our fleet, we have rolled out approximately 150 electric vans and more than 50% of our company cars are now fully electric. We’re also looking beyond that and encouraging our 10,000-odd employees in the UK to get into an EV via our salary sacrifice scheme.
For fleets specifically, we offer a full end-to-end solution in how to electrify, by providing charge points, access to public charging and data reporting analytics. We also cover expense reimbursement and other important facts and tools fleet managers need to consider.
It’s important to prioritise in the EV shift
The biggest lesson we could offer is to not just think about the fleet. Consider all of the areas, including charging infrastructure and the use cases for the vehicles on the fleet. Looking purely at the fleet in isolation, might make switching to EV seem a very expensive and daunting task. But, with office charging, for example, if you consider the wider employee advantages – as well as potential opportunities for visitor parking and customer charging – there are benefits in terms of employee retention and customer satisfaction. That means you can often recover some of the costs in a different way, which makes the financial case very different. Look at the big picture, then do the easy bits first.
The benefits of EVs can be rewarding
Employee retention is a big plus from transitioning to EVs, as well as customer retention and satisfaction. More and more employees and customers are becoming conscious of sustainability and really factor that into their decision-making. Proving that you walk the talk is really important. Financial benefits will really depend on the type of fleet and mileage but I think, even with the relative increases in energy costs versus petrol costs over the last sort of six to 12 months, it’s probably breakeven in terms of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for an average EV driver.
Other advantages can be gained with smarter charging via the E.ON Home app, which allows any driver to schedule charging around their needs – and to also charge at the cheapest times. E.ON is looking at how to open up new tariffs for customers to access lower rates overnight, which will make a big difference. We also offer tools such as load management, which aim to ensure that chargers are not taking up any more capacity than they need. That is often a key constraint for office spaces and for larger infrastructure projects.
“Other advantages can be gained with smarter charging via the E.ON Home app, which allows any driver to schedule charging around their needs – and to also charge at the cheapest times”
E.ON’s USP is the ability to do everything in-house
If a fleet is considering home charging, public charging or workplace charging, we can handle it all in one place, so it’s delivered by E.ON employees and engineers. For example, we’ve got 1,200 engineers doing smart meter installations every day and they are now being cross-trained to do EV charger installation. In the workplace, we can use our 350 lighting and grid engineers, who are currently working on low voltage street lighting grid connections and are also being trained to install EV chargers.
There is more to come in the EV space from E.ON
Vehicle to everything’ (V2X) is communication technology and part of a battery and energy storage system – and is something we’re very much looking at. In the UK last year, we delivered 60 vehicle-to-grid charge points for fleet customers as part of a trial through Innovate UK, working with Nissan. We’re currently collecting the data from that trial to understand the real opportunities and benefits of vehicle-to-grid. We’re also looking at how we can expand that towards future partnerships as well. There are also some smaller kinds of technologies around battery storage that we’ve already looked at and now have in place, too. That includes a booster product that we’ve delivered in conjunction with Volkswagen that is effectively a high-powered DC charger, supported by batteries. That means it only needs a lower voltage grid connection, which helps with capacity issues, where high power charging is required.
David Butters, head of B2B at E.ON Drive