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UK fleets could electrify 84% of their cars, research shows

Date: 30 March 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

A higher proportion of fleet cars in the UK could be electrified than in any other major European country, according to research by Webfleet Solutions.

The telematics company analysed anonymous data from its fleet customers across the continent, and applied its Fleet Electrification Planning Report, a new feature of its fleet management system which can recommend which petrol or diesel vehicles could be replaced with EVs, based on daily driving distances. 

A vehicle was found to be suitable for replacement if it drove less than 300km per day over a 12-month period.

In the UK, this was found to apply to 84% of fleet cars, the highest figure out of nine countries surveyed, ahead of second-placed Belgium on 74%, and the Netherlands on 69%.

The UK also led the way when LCVs were added into the equation, for an overall fleet vehicle figure of 70%, ahead of the Netherlands on 69%, and France on 67%, with 61% the European average.

According to Webfleet, 82.8% of European fleets could adopt at least one EV, 57% could switch half their fleet, and 34.4% could operate an entirely electric fleet.

It says that if all its customers made the possible EV switch, their collective tailpipe CO2 emissions could be reduced by 31%, while their petrol and diesel consumption could be reduced by more than 42% and just over 30% respectively.

Webfleet vice president for Europe Taco van der Leij said: "For somebody managing a commercial fleet, one question is particularly important when considering switching to electric vehicles - will an EV be capable of efficiently and safely completing the sort of trips my vehicles take on a daily basis?

"Telematics data can help answer this question and actively support fleet managers in the electrification process. 

"By aggregating this data from thousands of vehicles on the road, it serves as one important indicator to evaluate the potential of fleet electrification for commercial fleets across Europe."

Webfleet's research also considered the EV suitability of different industries, and found that across Europe 67% of cars used by professional services organisations could be EVs, compared with 52% in technical installation and repairs, 42% in catering, and 38% in passenger transport.

As well as driving patterns, Webfleet also acknowledged that charging infrastructure availability was a relevant factor in electrification.

It said that across the UK and the EU there were 144,000 chargers available, and that the UK had a reasonable share of these with 13%, although this was behind the Netherlands (26%), Germany (19%), and France (17%).

The research also cautioned that there may be specific use cases for fleets that reduce the suitability of EVs, such as having a limited time between trips for charging, or if there is a lot of cold-weather operation which could reduce vehicles' range.

Van der Leij said: "The trip distance is only one part of the puzzle. For example, costs, local charging infrastructure and the charging time of EVs are also important factors for fleets trying to determine if EVs are a practical fit for them.

"The data is clear on this. The trips being taken by the vast majority of business cars and LCVs in the sectors we analysed could also be made by EVs. 

"This will hopefully offer even more encouragement to the many businesses across Europe with ambitions to add EVs to their fleets."