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Fleets can unlock electric vehicle revolution, report claims

Date: 10 July 2020   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Fleets have a crucial role to play in accelerating UK EV adoption, but will need clear strategies and government support to achieve this, according to a new report.

Research company Cornwall Insight and accountancy firm PwC say that shifting to zero emission vehicles can generate fuel cost savings of around 63% across a fleet.

Their report, 'Leading the charge! Fleet charging - a catalyst for the EV revolution', also states that if all UK fleet vehicles went zero emission, as much as 30 million tonnes of CO2 would be saved - around 25% of all UK transport emissions.

It argues that corporate car fleets are likely to electrify first, along with field services and depot-based logistics, but says government policy has a critical role to play in enabling this, including taking a more consistent approach to clean air zones, and addressing a long-term policy gap between 2032 and 2050.

The report also argues that fleets need to take preparatory steps of their own to get the most out of electrification, including developing new funding models to address the different capital requirements from petrol and diesel fleets, and addressing the need for fleet managers to understand all aspects of energy management, from the power rating of charging units to learning how to manage the increased load on the local electricity network.

The report also says that the business model of charge point operators needs to see them become 'trusted advisors' to fleets, and build partnerships to assist with the long and complex process of fleet electrification.  

In addition to this, the report says the regular renewal cycle of fleets means that as electric vehicles are defleeted, this will accelerate growth in the consumer second-hand market, helping to reduce the cost barrier to adoption and creating the demand needed to inspire improvement in charging infrastructure.

Cornwall Insight research partner Daniel Atzori said: "The electrification of fleets is set to gain momentum, driven both by sustainability commitments and by compelling economic drivers.

"Fleets are likely to play a crucial role in the upcoming electrification of mobility and therefore in the decarbonisation of transport.

"Since fleets can ensure a high rate of utilisation of charging assets, fleet charging offers a range of interesting investment propositions. Having a clear and well-defined strategy will be crucial for fleet managers, charge point operators and investors looking to achieve leadership in this emerging market."

PwC UK energy and utilities leader Steve Jennings said: "As well as demonstrating the appeal for investors, our report also illustrates how utilities and charge point operators (CPOs) may play a key role in supporting EV fleet adoption, with business models evolving around advisory support to promote charging infrastructure and fine-tune electrification.

"It's clear that field services, depot-based logistics and leased corporate car fleets have the right characteristics (such as predictable driving and charging patterns) to spearhead EV adoption.

"However, pent up demand and rising levels of awareness amongst fleets is not enough to accelerate adoption. Government policy has a critical role to play. As we emerge from the current Covid-19 pandemic, alongside a strong focus on stimulating economic growth, we may see a growing emphasis on sustainability, including regulatory and strategic support for EV charging, to help address emission levels and improve air quality.

"Without policy certainty for all stakeholders across fleets, EV charging providers and investors, there is a risk that the full potential of this burgeoning EV revolution will not be realised."