Fleets reject EVs due to infrastructure mistrust
15 November 2016
Author: Debbie Wood
Company mistrust of charging infrastructure rather than a lack of employee interest is holding back electric vehicle uptake in the business car arena, according to new research from green transport organisation Go Ultra Low.
Speaking exclusively to BusinessCar, transport minister John Hayes agreed with fleets' frustrations and admitted more should be done to educate drivers on the current charging infrastructure and on which chargers work best for which car. He also promised to improve the situation through better information supply and improved driver education.
Go Ultra Low's data revealed that only 25% of fleets currently offer plug-in models to drivers, yet 69% of drivers would go electric if given the chance.
And according to fleet managers attending the organisation's Future of the Car Summit held last week, the limiting factor for EV uptake is being able to trust that the charging infrastructure is up to the job.
"There is an argument that charging places should be more numerous. That's certainly something we're looking at and will be looking to supply information about charging in a variety of different ways in the future," Hayes said.
Discussions at the summit focussed on the lack of clarity on how and where to charge an electric car. Fleet managers were vocal about how varied their experiences had been with public charging facilities, and called on industry bodies to provide more information.
Dale Eynon, fleet services manager at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, went as far to say it's "damn hard" to find charging points that are either working or available outside of the office and home.
"You can arrive at a charge point and have limited access," Eynon stated. "Some people don't want to be tied to a membership scheme either, but they want availability of more charge points."
Britvic, which currently runs 50 EVs on its 500-strong fleet, has already seen the overall cost of its vehicles reduce by 20% compared with two and a half years ago. However, it believes that without proper charging facilities drivers simply won't go for an electric car over a conventional petrol or diesel model.
"Unless you provide the infrastructure for your employees they won't buy them," said Will Smith, senior reward and performance manager for the drinks giant. "For us it's a win-win: our employees are happy, we've saved money, and we've been seen to be doing something good in the marketplace."
Robert Evans, chairman of the UK Vehicle Supply Environment Association, admitted some of the earlier charging points that were installed are no longer working properly and need to be removed from the streets.
"There are some structure issues where nobody has been looking after or updating the units. Some of the charging points, which were installed in the early years, we didn't know how long they would last. The reliability of units is much better than it was - there's nothing which frustrates the industry more then seeing charging points not working."