Major leasing firms unveil electric vehicle solutions
09 July 2013
Author: Jack Carfrae
Two of the UK's top five leasing companies - Arval and Alphabet - are rolling out electric vehicle solutions for fleets.
Arval is working on a service known as Drive Cycle Mapping, which is designed to work out where businesses can make savings with the use of alternative fuel vehicles and match the most appropriate ones to their needs.
The firm's fleet consultant, Paul Marchment, described the intention of the project as "trying to see where the next step is in whole-life costs".
Speaking to BusinessCar, he said: "There are lots of new drivetrains on the market now - electric, plug-in hybrid, hybrid, hydrogen; each one. has its place on a fleet somewhere, depending on the usage.
"I call it a Betamax/VHS area that we're in at the moment. we see it as our job to understand that technology and where it works in a fleet."
He continued: "You need to look at the profile of your drivers. If you've got perk drivers who live within 10 miles of the office, who are just commuting then doing a bit of shopping at the weekend, then an EV might suit them.
"For consultants who live close to the office but do long journeys on occasion, something like a Vauxhall Ampera or a Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid might suit. If you've got sales reps just steaming up and down motorways then a diesel will do the trick."
Arval is also undertaking its own independent tests of plug-in vehicles with the intention of accurately measuring economy and recommending vehicles to businesses based on its own figures rather than the often unrealistic official statistics quoted by vehicle manufacturers.
"We've taken most electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles etc, put them on our own test cycle and done a set route to put their vehicles under our own test," said Marchment.
"Only two of us drive the cars and we've both been eco-trained. Then we measure the true mpg and the true battery range. We're aiming to get a solution for some time next year."
Marchment hinted that Arval is also working on an engine remapping solution, similar to that rolled out by BT Fleet (see BusinessCar 25 June 2013).
Meanwhile, Alphabet has revealed plans to launch a new EV-only service, dubbed Alpha Electric.
The scheme is designed to help businesses work out whether EVs would suit their needs and support the introduction and operation of such vehicles on fleets.
The operation will be led by the company's fleet consultant Nigel Trotman and mobility solutions manager Kit Wisdom and will comprise three core areas: EV consultancy, provision of charging systems and "flexible mobility packages" to make other forms of transport available for journeys when EVs are not suitable.
Targeting public sector organisations as well as private sector businesses, the service will become available to UK fleets in September and cover all makes and models of plug-in vehicles.
Wisdom told BusinessCar: "For electric vehicles and other low-carbon transport methods to achieve mainstream adoption, it is important for both the financial and suitability arguments to stack up.
"While most businesses are looking for the 'green edge', if a decision isn't economic then it probably won't happen.
"As such, it is important that fleet managers are able to get hold of all of the facts to make informed decisions about if and how electric vehicles will fit into their wider business mobility planning."