CHOOSING the right vehicle always depends on asking the right questions.
In addition to everyday considerations, such as “do I like the colour?”, or “do I really need a large SUV for the urban school run?”, questions become more complex when business motoring is included. This is certainly the case for companies considering a switch from diesel or petrol to electric vehicles.
With the deadline for the government’s proposed ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans now just eight years away, we have compiled 10 key questions that fleet managers should consider as they plan their transition to a fossil-free future.
SMEs need to provide clear answers to them all to ensure that they are prepared for the future.
The questions fall into two broad categories:
- operational, which focuses on the day-to-day use of vehicles; and
- policy, which relates to managing the transition.
While both have equal importance, operational factors need consideration first because they will define the shape of future policy decisions.
Operational Considerations Before Making The EV Switch
1. What Is Your Mileage Profile?
A clear picture of your business mileage and vehicle usage will establish a list of priorities when it comes to electric vehicles. In addition to typical daily/weekly mileage patterns, considerations should include payload and passenger requirements. You can compare this to EV range predictions.
2. When And Where Will You Charge?
Using your mileage profile, you will have a greater understanding of where vehicles are travelling and typical distances covered. There will also be clarity on where all vehicles are kept when not in use. This information creates a ‘heat map’ of potential charging demand, whether that be office, home or public charging services. It highlights gaps in availability, or areas of particularly high demand, so you can consider your charging point requirements, including capacity and reliability. As charging speeds will vary, you need to consider how much downtime drivers can afford, either during the day or overnight.
3. How Will You Pay For Charging?
Charging costs are much more complex than a petrol pump, with a wealth of different tariffs depending on where drivers plug in. How will you manage payment for each potential type of charging (home, work, public)? If drivers pay some costs, how will they be reimbursed? How will you consolidate costs to obtain a clear picture of spending on charging for each vehicle, driver and department?
4. Are Your Drivers Trained?
Electric vehicles offer a completely different driving experience. Employees must adapt to rapid, silent acceleration, high-tech screens and unfamiliar dashboard information, often with lots of new technology. Just as with any new equipment, it is important to give drivers guidance so they overcome any confusion now, not at 70mph on the motorway. Risk management needs to be a key part of any briefing, especially with more powerful models that can offer supercar-like acceleration in a family car format. As electric cars are typically automatic, drivers who have always used manual gearboxes will need help adjusting, as well as help with how to get the best range from the car.
5. How Will EVs Affect Your Total Cost Of Ownership?
A thorough analysis of total cost of ownership is important to establish the potential savings from moving to electric vehicles. This includes incurred by the company, such as acquisition, fuel, maintenance, and insurance, along with driver-related costs, such as benefit-in-kind taxes and their impact on company Class 1A National Insurance Contributions. Consider accident damage and review repair costs and off-road times for typical incidents that could be different for EVs, while also working to avoid them happening through training.
The Benefits Of Switching To Electric Vehicles
For a fleet manager terms such as ‘road to zero’, ‘fuel management’ and ‘compliance’ will certainly be familiar.
However, for those yet to reach the point of electric vehicle (EV) consideration, here’s why making the switch will spark interest.
Rivervale’s fleet expert Jaymie Stanbrook (right) has listed five key benefits of making the EV switch now.
- The law. The government’s Road to Zero strategy plans have remained clear. The timeline for petrol and diesel vehicles is closing down and although some petrol/diesel options are viable as EV technology improves, they won’t be here much longer. Get involved now and take advantage of the various financial incentives. Such incentives will not be here for much longer!
- Winning tenders. Competition in your space will continue to grow, and if you haven’t made updates to your business, in the eyes of your clients you will look dated. More and more of our customers are revealing how their journey into EV and reducing their carbon footprint has helped them to win tenders.
- Compliance. Clean Air Zones are popping up across the UK. You simply cannot afford to lose out on opportunities because your fleet vehicles do not allow you to enter cities due to their poor emissions.
- Cost savings. It’s no secret that the initial investment when switching to EV is high, however you must look at the whole life cost because, more often than not the end balance is a considerable saving. Electricity is cheaper than fuel and the maintenance schedules on EVs are minimal.
- Digitalisation. The new technology of EVs isn’t limited to the batteries. Take advantage of smarter systems to track, monitor and stay on top of your fleet management. EV vehicles are perfect for data transmission and recording.
Book A Free Consultation
If you would like help with switching your fleet to EVs, book a call with our fleet management consultants.
6. How Will I Fund The New Fleet?
If a business is entering the electric vehicle highway for the first time, then managers may need to consider alternatives to long-term commitments. While purchase or long-term leases are most cost-effective, a company could investigate flexible leases or mid-term rental initially, or even look into the growing number of subscription service providers. Once managers are more certain about the direction their transition plan will take, businesses can make a larger, longer-term commitment. Speak to your dealer or leasing provider about options.
Having An EV Policy In Place
7. When Will You Start Switching?
It is worth meeting with senior management to discuss the impending government deadline and the impact it will have on availability of company cars or vans. Manufacturers are already starting to focus production on plug-in vehicles, so some petrol and diesel models could be in short supply over the coming years. Lead times for any vehicle could be affected by pandemic-related disruption. To get the wheels of transition in motion, set a few milestones ahead of the 2030 deadline, when all your new cars or vans will come with a plug.
8. Who Will Switch First?
Every company will have a different approach to transition, but it is worth being clear about how and why change will happen. Will managers switch first, or low mileage drivers? When will high mileage drivers change, such as sales teams? What will the transition plan look like for any van drivers? Giving management and employees a timeline will let them know where they stand and help them prepare for change.
9. Are My Drivers Ready For The Change?
You need to make sure drivers and managers understand the reasons for change and support any transition. Driver training may tackle any on-the-road issues related to unfamiliar electric vehicles, but internal barriers require a personal touch to ensure the policy change is successful. For example, if drivers oppose the idea of electric vehicles, you may need a series of driving days to promote the benefits of change and give them confidence in the technology.
10. What Vehicles Will You Provide?
After all the hard work, this should be the fun bit. With a clear idea of business requirements, you can get behind the wheel and see what manufacturers have to offer. Your assessments will be critical to building a choice list that reflects your business needs and the operational demands placed on the fleet, with benchmarks including range, charging speed, carrying capacity and cost.