Q&A


The evolution to electric

ABB Electrification will host a fully electric fleet by 2025. David Lowen, lead business manager in the UK, explains how other companies can make the switch.

WHAT INSPIRED ABB TO TRANSITION TO AN ELECTRIC FLEET?

The main inspiration for ABB UK to switch to all-electric vehicles was our mission towards embedding sustainability into everything we do. Business mileage, energy consumption and air travel contribute to over 50% of our total emissions. In the UK, we have roughly 500 company vehicles, covering a combined 6.8 million business miles on average every year.

We calculated an estimated reduction of our overall emissions by 20% once we had fully transitioned through CEMARS (The Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme). This work helped us realise that the initial investment would be worth it to reach our zero-emissions target.

David Lowen, lead business manager in the UK, ABB Electrification

"Following our initial research, we realised that making an ‘organic shift’ to an EV fleet was more feasible than switching all our vehicles at once. We also calculated that the additional expenditure required was far lower than we imagined.”

WHAT HURDLES MUST FLEET MANAGERS OVERCOME WHEN TRANSITIONING TO AN ELECTRIC FLEET?

Following our initial research, we realised that making an ‘organic shift’ to an EV fleet was more feasible than switching all our vehicles at once. We also calculated that the additional expenditure required was far lower than we imagined. Since the running costs of an EV are so much lower than those of an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICE), we found that the total cost of ownership narrowed over time.

There are also a host of misconceptions surrounding EVs. The biggest being range anxiety: a lot of our employees feared that their company car might constantly run out of charge. Yet, some modern batteries can already match the range of an ICE. Moreover, the availability of public charging stations in the UK continues to grow every year.

For example, Gridserve’s new Electric Highway will cover 85% of the motorway network as well as towns and cities across the country. The Electric Hubs house ABB’s Ultrafast 350kW DC chargers, which can deliver 200 miles of range in less than 20 minutes.

Another challenge was that certain employees were concerned about long charging times compared to refuelling. However, our employees were won over after they were reminded of the health and safety benefits of taking regular breaks when driving long distances. Regardless, these charging times fall dramatically for higher-power chargers.

There is also the risk that transitioning to an e-fleet may disrupt your business’ current levels of service. At ABB, for example, our engineers can often be on 24-hour callouts, which could make them fearful of being stranded without charge. So, we made a commitment to install our AC Terra Wallbox at their homes for free. These give the engineers 30 miles of range per hour, rather than the 10 miles an hour provided by a 3-pin socket. Service disruptions were also mitigated by performing a gradual rather than an instant shift to a fully electric fleet. This smoother transition helps ease the minds of more hesitant employees.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SWITCHING?

The benefits of initiatives such as EV adoption are widespread across an organisation. Staff want their employers to take active measures to control emissions. In a survey conducted by Swytch, over 70% of millennial respondents said that they were more likely to choose another company if it had a stronger environmental agenda. Some were even willing to take pay cuts to ensure they worked for an environmentally conscious organisation. Climate positive campaigns, such as switching to an EV fleet, will attract upcoming talent.

There are also financial benefits, which help ease the switch. Various government grants are available to reduce the upfront costs of both the EVs themselves and the chargers. The OZEV Workplace Charging scheme reduces the upfront cost of certain chargers by up to £350. This is valid for a maximum of 40 sockets per company. In addition, for certain cars and vans that cost less than £35,000, the Plug-In grant offers up to 35% off the cost of the EV, up to £2,500.

Combined with reduced Benefit-in-Kind charges, and exemptions from ULEZ and congestion charges, there are clear financial benefits to switching.

To stay up to date with the latest news and developments subscribe to our weekly Newsletter