Arval: training vital to electric vehicle success
21 October 2013
Author: Jack Carfrae
Leasing giant Arval is calling on manufacturers to offer businesses eco driver training programmes if they plan to adopt electric vehicles on their fleets.
Speaking to BusinessCar, the firm's fleet consultant, Paul Marchment said: "You almost see a change in peoples' driving styles because they want to get more and more range out of the vehicle when they're using it.
"One of the things we've said to the manufacturers is if you're buying an electric or alternative-fuel vehicle, give them some driver training because your whole driving style has to change to get the best out of the technology."
The announcement follows the company's own trials of the Nissan Leaf and a BMW 1-series Active-e, which it claims have led to greater understanding of EVs, a reduction in range anxiety and acceptance from both Arval staff and external fleet operators who had been given the chance to sample the cars.
"Where we've taken them to events and where people have actually driven them, it's the look on their face when they've first driven an electric vehicle. They don't anticipate the performance that an EV can give," he said.
"And also, when we've encouraged staff to drive them, they've sheepishly taken them home, come back and said 'can we have that for a week?' because the range anxiety when you live with it starts to disappear."
He continued: "These are fleet operators who haven't had access to the technology before. When we first had the Leaf, I said to [fellow Arval consultant] Mike [Waters], 'to fully understand it, I need to live with it for two weeks,' so I had it for two weeks to actually use just to see where my limitations were, just to see where my psyche would change.
"And again, this is what we're trying to do with our customers, to say this technology is here now."
Marchment added: "Not all of our customers are motivated by cost. Some of them genuinely want to lower CO2. We're totally neutral to the manufacturers but we try to advise on best practice. We're trying to put all the pieces of the jigsaw together."
Marchment said the clout of having an ex-Olympic car on test had also proved beneficial: "The Active-e we've taken to numerous events as well. It's got pedigree because it's a 2012 Olympic car, but actually people are always wanting to know about the technology.
"They're surprised at how cheap it is to charge up, where they can use it and how far they can actually get with it."