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The start point for the best source of fleet information

In Focus: Diode Energy

Date: 01 August 2022   |   Author: Martyn Collins

Founded in the shadow of the climate emergency, Diode Energy has worked in the electric vehicle space since 2015, with the aim to help everyone embrace electric vehicles.

Co-founder and chief marketing officer Dan Eyre admits Diode is seeing a huge amount of interest from businesses who want to transition their fleets to EV, and when they see a demo of their platform, they're keen to get started. 

He says: "But it's not just about fleets. We're speaking to a lot of businesses who want to achieve their wider sustainability goals by supporting their staff base as a whole - for example, rolling out a salary sacrifice scheme. 

"And these businesses come in all shapes and sizes too - from complex public sector organisations, national retail brands, and multi-national construction companies, to small businesses with a handful of vehicles. 

"It's also worth mentioning that our main route to market is through strategic partnerships, such as vehicle providers, so there's a huge amount of interest here too, especially since we launched our latest partnership with Tusker.

"Vehicle leasing companies are interested in using our white-labelled platform to help business customers assess the EV readiness of their fleets, help employees choose a suitable vehicle, understand the required charging infrastructure for the transition, and of course, get all the necessary workplace and home charge points installed.

Eyre then goes on to explain how it all works. 

He says: "Our charge platform for business gathers data on all vehicles and employees, including private car drivers, and processes this information to give each business a dynamic charging infrastructure recommendation. This calculates the number and type of charge points the business needs over the next five years, and the estimated cash savings they will make over this period.

"Here's my favourite bit - each employee is invited to complete our clever driver survey to collect journey data and create their instant EV readiness report. The report is packed with information on the employee's access to charging, costs, and CO2 savings compared to their current vehicle, plus an interactive tool to assess how different EVs would fit into their lifestyle based on their specific driving behaviour."

Eyre tells me that their platform is ready to give businesses and their employees the information to get the electrification process started straight away. 

"If fleet managers have some basic information to hand for each site, access to vehicle registrations and a list of employee email addresses, then as soon as they've uploaded this to the platform, it's over to the employees to complete a quick EV suitability survey. Once they've completed their survey, employees can view their EV readiness report, select a vehicle, order a charge point, and explore different EV services, such as smart charging.

"For the fleet manager to access their dynamic charging infrastructure recommendation, they'll need at least 25% of drivers to complete their EV readiness assessments - although we typically see this at around 60%. 

"Once the fleet manager is ready, a member of our team will arrange a call to make sure they understand their recommendation and options, then we get the charge point procurement process started with our suppliers." 

Eyre and Diode have already identified common issues with adoption, but he's keen to stress that is why they created their platform - to help businesses and their employees overcome them. 

He says: "For businesses, the main issue is that they don't really know where to start and have many questions that they can't easily answer. How many vehicles can switch to EV and when? How many workplace chargers do they need, across each site, at what power, and when do they need to be installed? I could go on.

"For individual drivers, there's three common blockers - all of which our platform tackles head on. First of all, drivers often don't understand what their access to charging looks like at home, work and on the go. Secondly, range anxiety is a big challenge for drivers to overcome, simply because they don't know which car best fits their needs. Finally, many drivers don't think EVs are cost effective - they're not aware of the running cost and tax benefits available to them.

"I'd say this all boils down to one thing - a lack of understanding and access to highly personalised information to help make informed choices." 

Getting the information needed isn't proving a problem either. According to Eyre, they only ask the fleet manager for the information that they absolutely need to get the process started.

He says: "This could be something as simple as office locations and employee email addresses, then it's over to their employees to each complete the EV readiness assessment. 

"We've taken a survey approach, so all drivers can do it in less than 10 minutes, for an instant result, unlike systems that rely on telematics hardware or smartphone apps. This means that the blockers for collecting journey information are massively reduced, because everyone can complete a simple survey."

Eyre goes on to tell me Diode Energy actually support the government's decision to remove the plug-in car grant. They believe that subsidies become proportionately expensive as uptake increases and you end up subsidising a lot of drivers who would have purchased an EV anyway. 

He says: "The grant has been gradually tapered down since it was first introduced in 2011, during which time EV sales have continued to rise to over 14% this year. 

"It was always going to end at some point and it's done its job to get the EV sector off the ground. Now the money can be spent in a more targeted way, such as on charging infrastructure.

"Plus, support is still there, such as from big benefit-in-kind tax savings for company car and salary sacrifice drivers. And because this makes EV ownership cheaper, it arguably trickles through indirectly into the used vehicle market, which is primarily made up of private vehicle drivers."