Considering switching to an EV Fleet? 10 Questions You Should Consider
By Amanda | 23-05-2018
Electric Vehicles have continually increased in demand, but as fleet managers, choosing to buy an electric vehicle (EV) might not necessarily be the right choice for your business.
The number of EVs actually being registered remains relatively small, but at present around 70 per cent of plug-in cars go to businesses as fleet managers become more switched on to the potential benefits. With plenty of new plug-in models and pure EVs promised from mainstream car manufacturers in the future, there could be a significant turning point in the next few years.
Before fleet managers consider introducing EVs and Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs) to their fleets, they should consider the following 10 points.
- Is there support for change?
When introducing any significant change to the way fleets are operated, senior fleet managers need to whole-heartedly support the change. This involves looking at the resource implications of introducing such vehicles and also any potential benefits to the business. Companies should start looking at factors such as their reputation and image and the ways in which the use of EVs could enhance their business.
- Who can I contact?
There are a wide range of resources put in place for fleet managers when considering the use of EVs and PHEVs. Government-funded organisations such as Go Ultra Low and Energy Saving Trust offer guides to ultra-low emission vehicles and a fleet review service. Fleet managers can also approach other managers who have already made the change and quiz them on the technologies in order to make a well-informed decision.
- What financial support is there?
Fleets investing in EVs will have access to up to £4,500 for cars and up to £8,000 for electric vans in the form of a Government grant, which is aimed at reducing up-front purchase costs and comes with a maximum limit of 35% of the vehicle's cost. There are six levels of funding available, dependent on the emission-free range of the vehicle and its CO2 emissions.
- Will PHEVs increase my running costs?
Costs to consider when purchasing an EV or PHEV include its depreciation, the cost to charge the car and the vehicle's insurance. Poppy Welch, head of Go Ultra Low, advises fleet managers to, "look beyond the list price or monthly rental" and instead look at the "wholelife" costs of an EV fleet. "Typically, fleets can save more than £800 a month on a fleet of 10 EVs", she adds. At present, most EV's depreciate more quickly, but this can be offset by the lower fuel and servicing costs. Fleet News currently offers a Running Cost Calculator, which provides detailed cost per mile information on a range of EVs.
- Will I need to review my fleet policy?
Short-term the answer is no . Companies should initially just trial EVs to ensure they meet the right criteria in relation to performance and suitability. Once a fleet manager has made the decision to permanently adopt EVs onto their fleet, then a policy review will be required. A good start for fleet managers is to introduce the option of an EV or PHEV on some job grades where applicable. Companies should also consider providing incentives for staff who choose these vehicles.
- Should I lease or buy an EV?
Experts are suggesting that leasing a vehicle is the better option while resale values of EVs remain uncertain. In this way, leasing companies bear the risk rather than the fleet manager, providing owners with the peace of mind they will not be stuck with a car they can't re-sell. There will be a higher termination fee for a lease car which is where fleet owners may fall down should an employee choose to leave. A way to combat this problem would be for fleet managers to consider corporate car sharing schemes, where employees book out use of an EV.
- What should fleet managers communicate to employees?
It's imperative that fleet managers do their research and learn how to communicate the benefits of EVs effectively to their staff. Companies must learn how to engage with employees and managers to help them to understand what EVs are capable of. Employees should be made aware of how to run an EV effectively and responsibly, taking into account when and how to re-charge the battery. This is particularly important to avoid employees from opting for an EV to save benefit-in-kind taxes, then running it without charging the battery.
- How will EVs be used?
Companies need to spend time considering how EVs will be used and how far they will travel before deciding if they are an option. Certainly, short distances in built up urban areas are the better option for EVs whereas employees who travel long motorway distances may not be suitable candidates. In addition, companies should prioritise the use of EVs in areas where they will receive maximum benefit such as congestion charging and low-emission zones. Fleet managers should make decisions by focussing on individual vehicles rather than a fleet as a whole to identify the real opportunities in adopting EVs.
- What charging facilities will need to be put in place?
Before adopting the use of EVs, fleet owners should ensure there are sufficient charging facilities to accommodate these vehicles. Facilities need to be flexible and cost-effective to enable expansion as demand increases, therefore Fleet managers should speak to other local businesses in relation to potentially sharing charging resources. Companies can also research the grant support available from the Government by using websites such as Energy Saving Trust. For home charging, staff can sign up to the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, which provides a grant of up to £500 towards the cost of installation. Fleet managers must also make employees aware of the network of more than 11,000 public charge-points across the UK - an important incentive for persuading drivers to make the change.
- Will drivers need training to drive EVs?
Fleet managers should be prepared to provide support to employees in their transition to plug-in cars and pure EVs. EVs have automatic transmission for a start which some drivers may not be used to. Because there is no engine noise, drivers need to be trained to be aware of pedestrians and their potentially slower reactions to EVs. Furthermore, support may need to be provided in relation to using the charging network for home, office or when out on the road.