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Mike Waters' blog: 14 July - Answering some questions

Date: 14 July 2015

Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at Arval, the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company

Have you ever driven an electric or plug-in hybrid car? Many people haven't and the experience is an interesting one.

Four or five years ago, very few people owned or leased this type of vehicle other than a few early adopters or businesses looking to promote their green credentials. However, now they are much more common as drivers look for efficient and cost effective options.

At Arval, we now have nearly 2400 on the fleet. These are mostly cars, but there are a few vans too and when used in the right circumstances they are a big success. From my perspective that's the key though; are they being used in the right circumstances?

Because they are more common and there are drivers who have been in them for a number of years, the market, businesses and consumers have developed an understanding of where they work best and when they probably don't provide the right option.

There is still a misconception that electric or plug-hybrid is a more efficient option than straight petrol or diesel but it really depends on what you are using it for. The obvious example is the driver that completes high mileage and is often on the motorway. In our experience, a fully electric vehicle would be totally impractical while an efficient diesel will often perform better than a plug-in hybrid.

Likewise the driver completing many short journeys, or with a daily commute to and from work of less than 30 miles, would find plug-in options really efficient. The key really is to match the vehicle to the common usage to get the best fit.

The next technology to come through will be hydrogen which will pose exactly the same questions that electric did, and does. What the answer will be, only time will tell.