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Small and medium firms reject electric vehicle use

Date: 27 June 2011

Range anxiety, inadequate charging infrastructure and whole-life costs provide major barriers to small and medium firms considering electric cars for their fleets, 80% of which rejected their use in a survey of 100 companies.

Only 18 out of 100 fleets polled by MIB Data Solutions expressed "openness" to the concept of buying or leasing electric cars and vans.

CV operators were particularly wary among the sub 100-vehicle operators surveyed with relatively high mileages covered by their vans cited as an obstacle. Lack of local and national charge points compounding that scepticism.

Even among the 18 electric vehicle enthusiasts there was concern about range and costs, and although avoiding congestion charges and "boosting green corporate credentials" were positives, doubts about battery life, range and cost persisted.

Nick Boddington, MD of MIB Data Solutions, said the report would make disappointing reading for EV manufacturers and the Government because those questioned were "relatively well informed and aware".

He said that those involved in marketing EVs should pay attention to the survey finding that almost none of those interviewed emphasised low running costs or congestion charges.

Meanwhile, larger companies, those with 1000 or more employees, have expressed enthusiasm for EVs with a contrasting survey for Arval showing that one-third believe fully that electric vehicles could make a suitable addition to their fleets.

In between those polarised views the Arval analysis, undertaken by Corporate Vehicle Observatory Barometer, found that 20% of firms with more than 100 staff felt that EVs could be a "realistic" fleet option. One-fifth of this latter group of smaller companies also forecast they would introduce diesel hybrids into their fleets.

Meanwhile, the need for rental companies to understand EVs and communicate their benefits effectively is driving Enterprise's "shop window" pilot scheme in London, initially involving employees using eight Peugeot Ions. Enterprise staff will use 11 charging points in "key" branches across London. The company's UK director of business rental Rob Ingram said the priority was for staff to understand them first and "only then can we think about rental".

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