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Electric Vehicle Fleets: From Policy to Practice

charging port

How it’s going

Transport is the sector which emits the most greenhouse gases in the UK, responsible for 27% of overall greenhouse gas emissions, 55% of which is from cars.  Importantly, 60% of new car and van registrations are for fleet and businesses, meaning that a fleet switch to electric will have a huge impact on UK emissions, and will have knock-on effects in increasing public awareness of electric vehicles (EVs) and creating a more robust second-hand market.

Members of EVI00, an international non-profit dedicated to making EVs the norm by 2030, have committed to switching their company fleets electric by 2030 – but what progress has been made?

Over five years, members of the EV100 have put 400,000 EVs on the road. While this is encouraging progress, it is only a fraction of the 5.75 million vehicles that have been committed to electric transition, across 128 member companies.

In the UK, a more focused, national collective, the UK Electric Fleets Coalition (UKEFC) is committed to zero-emission fleets, comprising of 25 large businesses, including BT Group, Openreach, and Royal Mail, companies where large fleets are central to operations. The BT ‘EV Fleet Accelerator Report’ has set out “a green plan led by the white van.”, hoping to influence policy and practical steps for EV fleet transition.

Clearly, the appetite is there, but there are some specific challenges to EV fleets, particularly for vans rather than cars, which means that for now, many aims are still a few years away.

What Comes Next

The BT report has set out a ‘green plan led by the white van’ because operations needing vans have faced particular challenges. This is a view confirmed by the EV100 ‘Progress and Insights Report’, where 64% of members reported that they could not uptake EV as the specific vehicle needed simply was not available. In the UK, there is no large-scale manufacturer of electric vans, meaning businesses have to look to France and Germany when they want to support British business.

A lack of charging infrastructure also needs to be addressed, as businesses such as BT and Royal Mail need to reach rural areas. This could be partly addressed by government policy, as currently there is a disparity between the VAT on home charging (5%) and public charging (20%) which is not inducive to a business-led EV transition.

Upskilling will also be necessary, as EVs will inevitably need repair. The Direct Line group has currently trained 19% of its technicians in electric vehicle repair, which must be expanded over the next decade, to ensure a safe transition to new vehicles.

As many car manufacturing firms have committed to completely transition to electric, EVs are clearly the future of road transport. Volvo plan to sell only BEVs and PHEVs from 2025, in anticipation of electric-only from 2030. However, moving closer from promises into practice will be necessary to ensure a smooth transition for both businesses and consumers. Businesses with large fleets have the collective power to pioneer this transition and advocate to ensure a low-emission future.

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