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Everything an SME needs to know to make the switch to electric cars and the UK’s charging infrastructure. With obvious and significant tax savings available, running an electric company car is a popular choice. However, that doesn’t make the change any less daunting. In this feature supported by Concept Vehicle Leasing, Tristan Young unravels the process to make it simple.
WITHIN a decade, all new cars sold in the UK will be of the plug-in variety thanks to the government’s ban on new petrol and diesel cars and vans that comes into force in 2030.
For businesses running company cars, that’s at most three fleet cycles away, however, many manufacturers are planning to move to an EV-only line up far sooner. While the cars themselves are easy to drive, the biggest worry is not so much about range, but how and where to recharge.
So what do SMEs need to know to make the transition as smooth as possible?
Home And Office Charging
The best and lowest cost option is for drivers to charge at home or at work. If your company car drivers have a driveway then fitting a dedicated home charge point means they can start every journey with 100% battery. The government no longer offers a grant to fit a home charging point – unless you live in a flat – which means installation now typically costs between £700-£1500.
When the government energy price cap that came into force a year ago, means the price of electricity will be around 32 pence per kWh. For businesses familiar with fuel cost per mile; for a car capable of three miles per kWh that’s 10.7p per mile.
More efficient EVs will, obviously, cost less per mile and less efficient ones will cost more per mile.
Home and office charge points typically charge at a maximum rate of 7kW per hour which means if an 80kW battery car were ‘empty’ it would take around 11-12 hours to fully charge.
Electricians and EV manufacturers don’t recommend regularly using a three-pin socket (which would typically deliver a charge at up to 3kW per hour) because of the risk of the long term load on house electrics. However, many EVs are supplied with a three-pin cable and these can be used if you can’t find anywhere else.
Even with the increased price of electricity, home or office charging is still the cheapest way of charging an EV. According to a recent report, more than 50% of businesses already offer office charging.
For those without access to a home or office charge point, the next best (in cost terms) option is on-street charging.
This is typically the same speed of charge as a home charge point, 7kW, but is offered in places where vehicles will be parked for longer periods of time. This could be sockets built into lamp posts, dedicated posts at the side of the road or charge points in car parks. Some points come with a cable, others just offer a socket and you’ll need to bring your own cable.
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Costs are typically slightly higher than home charging, but there are still a few free charging points.
These 7-22kW charge points are often referred to as ‘fast chargers’, however, this is a term coined in the early days of electric vehicles and is hardly ‘fast’ when it can still take several hours to recharge using these points.
However, if you’re parked overnight, the speed will be easily enough to get back up to 100%.
To pay for these public charge points drivers will usually need to register for an account through an app, however an increasing number offer tap and pay.
Do You Need Help To Go Electric?
Concept Vehicle Leasing is an expert provider in the SME space and provides competitive funding on business or personal contract hire on pretty much every brand-new EV available in the UK today.
Salary Sacrifice on electric cars is also a tax-efficient and popular addition to employee benefits programmes, and the team at Concept can support businesses with requirements from just 1+ vehicles.
Concept has also teamed up with Hypervolt – a UK based manufacturer / supplier of EV charge points – making the switch to electric as smooth and easy as possible for business drivers.
You can book a quick initial call here or call us on 0800 043 2050.
Rapid charging, classed as 50-100kW, and ultra-rapid charging, classed as 100kW-plus, are the fastest and most expensive way of recharging.
Typically costing between 44-85p per kW these charge points are in locations where the fastest charge possible is necessary to complete a journey such as motorway services. At this price for electricity the cost figure could easily reach 28p per mile. A figure that’s likely to be higher than most diesels. However, most drivers will only use these charge points occasionally. All rapid and ultra-rapid chargers come with their own cable, so you don’t need to bring yours to ‘fill up’.
Almost all rapid chargers allow tap and pay, however, if you’re a regular user it may be worth investigating signing up for a subscription for a discounted rate.
The advantage of a rapid, or ultra-rapid, charge is that if your car is capable, charge times can be significantly quicker. It’s worth knowing what the maximum charge speed is for your car. It’s all very well stopping at a charge point that can deliver electricity at 150kW, but if your car can only accept electricity at 100kW or less then you could end up paying for a charging speed you can’t use.
This is also a factor to keep in mind when buying an EV. Do you need to be able to charge quickly? Or will a slower charge cover your needs?
Who’s Who In The Charging Network?
The UK charging network is not dominated by one single player. Zapmap, the UK’s most comprehensive database of charge points, lists 14 companies with more than 1% market share, including Tesla’s charge points – only some of which are available to non-Tesla drivers.
The largest player is Ubitricity, owned by Shell, with 15% of the market. Second is Pod Point with 11% and third, BP Pulse with 7.4%.
In reality, if you’ve got a home charge point, that’s where you’ll be recharging most. And assuming you’re not covering mega-miles, you’ll then only occasionally tap to pay at rapid charge points.
If you don’t have the ability to home-charge, you’ll likely need several apps and accounts from the charge network providers to keep your range up.
While there are more than 50,000 public charging connections in the UK, according to the latest figures from charge point database ZapMap, spread over nearly 19,000 locations, drivers can still suffer from charging anxiety.
In the experience of this author, who’s been running electric cars for the past few years, the real world of trying to charge your car on the public network several points need to align for a successful charge.
You will need the right speed of charging point in the right location. It also needs to be available and working correctly.
The secret is to plan ahead and have more than one option for recharging.
For any longer journey where you’ll need to charge away from home it’s worth looking up a few options at the distance you’ll need to recharge or around your destination. If you then find a charge point is out of action or busy, you’ll have a back-up plan ready to go.
Next Steps To The EV Charging Infrastructure That's Right For You
As soon as you’ve got your new EV, make sure that if you’ve got a driveway you get a home charge point. Once you can start every journey with 100% range the stress levels drop considerably.
The next hurdle is to carry out your first public network charge. In most cases you’ll find this easier than you expect. However, while the network has improved significantly in recent years, the number of EVs has increased at a faster rate, so there’s a higher likelihood of the charge point being occupied.
Planning is the key to a successful journey with successful recharging. Use online resources, such as Zapmap or the car’s own systems, before you travel to work out where you’re likely to need to refuel and always have a plan-B.
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