The EV road to recovery

By Lauren Pamma, Electrification Proposition Lead, Lex Autolease
Lauren Pamma, Electrification Proposition Lead at Lex Autolease, unpicks how utility businesses can benefit from adopting electric vehicles...

Lauren Pamma, Electrification Proposition Lead at Lex Autolease , unpicks how utility businesses can benefit from adopting electric vehicles.

It is no surprise that business priorities have shifted since the Covid-19 crisis, as many look to preserve existing resources and start the rebuilding process. However, against the backdrop of the government’s ‘Build Back Better’ messaging, there is an opportunity to ensure sustainability remains a central part of any future plans.

According to research from the International Energy Agency, since travel restrictions were imposed at the start of the pandemic, up to 2.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions have been prevented globally. The recent UK lockdown resulted in an unforeseen boost to the progress towards net-zero and businesses across the utility industry can look to use this shift as a catalyst for long-term change by accelerating their transition to electric vehicles. 

Positive steps have already been taken by key players across the energy sector. Giants including Eon and British Gas have pledged to electrify their fleets and install the necessary charging infrastructure within the next ten years, as part of The Climate Group’s EV100 commitment, which we’re also signatories of. 

As we begin to take the first steps towards a green recovery from the crisis, what should utility businesses consider when exploring their Electric Vehicle (EV) options and what is really driving fleet electrification?

Right vehicle, right job

For any business looking to introduce alternatively-fuelled vehicles within its operation, it’s important to identify areas where the transition to electric can be made most easily. Put simply, it’s a case of matching each job role to the most appropriate vehicle technology. 

For example, businesses doing relatively low-mileage and stop-start driving within a concentrated urban area will find petrol and diesel vehicles are rarely the most efficient fuel types for the job. In this case, electric vehicles present an opportunity for businesses to reap possible savings on fuel, maintenance, taxation and charges for entering Ultra Low Emission Zones.

However, jobs which require vehicles to be in operation for longer and to cover more miles – for example to deliver parts and services to a wider network of customers – may still be better suited to the very latest clean diesel technology. 

It’s important to highlight that the transition to electric vehicles doesn’t have to be all or nothing. For many businesses, introducing a select number of EVs into their organisation to trial the technology and build up employee advocacy is a preferable – and more realistic - starting point. 

Whole life cost

Although electric vehicle technology is evolving rapidly, up-front purchase costs for many electric cars and vans currently remain more expensive than their petrol and diesel counterparts. While the ongoing low running costs are highly attractive to businesses, the initial upfront investment can be a barrier to wide-spread adoption. 

Firms must look at the bigger picture and consider the full lifespan of the vehicle and the subsequent cost savings that can be made. Together with unrestricted access to Clean Air Zones in cities across the UK, businesses can reap savings on taxation and fuel costs. While the cost-per-mile in a traditionally-fuelled vehicle is around 14 pence, charging some electric models such as the Peugeot e-208 can be as cheap as four pence per mile. 

Establishing the right charging infrastructure is the key to the long-term viability and adoption of electric vehicles across a business’s fleet, which brings its own set of considerations. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of who is supplying the chargers, who will be using them, where they need to be, and the type of chargers required. For businesses looking to further boost their green credentials, charging EVs using renewable energy sources can go a long way to make their driving even greener and unlock additional long-term savings. 

EVs on the charge

The declining uptake of diesel and petrol vehicles on UK roads is nothing new, and EV adoption has picked up considerably in recent months. Recent registration figures from the Society of Motor and Manufacturers Traders (SMMT) show that the number of EVs on the roads have more than doubled amid the global pandemic.

This continues the trend of the past 12 months which have arguably seen the fastest pace of change yet, thanks in no small part to the continued support from government’s Road to Zero Strategy. The strategy outlines a series of ambitious targets and funding packages to facilitate a future where all new cars and vans are effectively zero-emission by 2035 - potentially just three replacement cycles away for many fleet operators.

As government incentives gather pace, it’s only a matter of time before electric vehicles become embedded into the UK’s road network. 

Utility businesses now face a significant opportunity to embrace the benefits of alternatively-fuelled vehicles. By starting the EV transition today, businesses can not only play their part in contributing to the UK’s sustainability targets but also reap the long-term cost-saving advantages of introducing EVs into their fleet.

This article was contributed by Lauren Pamma, Electrification Proposition Lead at Lex Autolease


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