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DfT encourages mass fleet adoption of EVs

Date: 06 November 2015   |   Author:

"I want the next five years to be remembered as the dawn of the ultra-low emission vehicle era," said Andrew Jones, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Transport, at a conference on the future of business mobility held late last month.

He stated his ambition to see a mass shift to ULEVs over the next few decades, adding: "Our ultimate goal is for virtually every car and van on the road to be zero emission by 2050." Despite reluctance among some businesses to adopt electric vehicles, Jones stressed: "EVs are the right vehicles for your corporate needs," citing the fact that the UK is now the fastest-growing EV market in Europe.

More than this, two-thirds of UK ULEVs are already being purchased by businesses, Jones pointed out. However, a number of industry figures - including Simon Oliphant, chairman of the BVRLA, and John Pryor, chairman of ACFO - hold a more cautious attitude on their role in business fleets, with Pryor stating that EVs are "not for every type of corporate travel".

Oliphant reiterated that not every vehicle will work for every type of usage, with current EVs being less suitable for long or unpredictable journeys and haulage, which means that the country "won't get away from a blended fleet for the foreseeable future". With several hydrogen fuel-cell-powered cars already available, Jones also sees hydrogen power playing a "very significant role" for future cars, with HGVs potentially shifting to biofuels.

While business take-up of ULEVs may be a little slow with just 200 pure-electric models and 3000 plug-in vehicles on Lex Autolease's 307,300-vehicle strong fleet - the UK's largest - Chris Chandler, principal consultant for the company said that Lex hasn't experienced any issues with electric car failure or battery degradation, which has meant that EV residuals have increased organically, cutting whole-life costs.

Chandler added that SMR rates are also 30% lower than conventional cars, with National Insurance savings and operating costs of just 3p per mile counteracting higher list prices

However, grant support is still vital for EVs to be cost-effective, Chandler stated, adding that it's important that tax systems continue to allow tax benefits for ULEVs, while in-life incentives are crucial to maintain used car demand, and consequently build residuals further.