Is your business fleet doing enough to reach zero carbon?
The vehicles on our roads have a major role to play in achieving the government’s zero-carbon targets. Emissions from vehicles are significant contributors to air pollution and climate change.
The need to address the health risks posed by airborne pollution from vehicles, particularly diesel engines, combined with the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions responsible for climate change, have resulted in renewed urgency for a transport revolution.
Governments, city authorities and regulators are taking action through legislation, clean air zones, access restrictions and other measures to incentivise the uptake of electric vehicles. At the same time, the automotive industry has embarked on an ambitious programme of innovation and development to improve the performance, range and cost of electric vehicles. The UK government has set a target for all cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040, and has launched a raft of incentives and grants to improve the attractiveness of electric vehicles.
Any business that is serious about achieving zero carbon needs to tackle emissions from its vehicle fleet and from vehicles associated with its operations – whether owned by employees or customers.
Businesses that own a fleet of vehicles – from organisations with just a handful of company cars through to distribution businesses with a large fleet of commercial vehicles – will need to transition to electric vehicles to achieve zero-carbon status. Electric vehicle innovations are progressing at a fast pace, and lower-cost vehicles are becoming more widely available. Cost parity with petrol and diesel vehicles is estimated to be reached before 2030. Even now, although initial capital costs are higher for electric vehicles, the total lifetime costs of ownership – including fuelling and maintenance – are significantly lower than for petrol and diesel vehicles.
Incentivising electric vehicle uptake
There are significant incentives for businesses and employees to switch to electric vehicles. To start with, the operating and maintenance costs of an electric vehicle are approximately one tenth of the costs associated with a petrol or diesel vehicle. What’s more, the higher the mileage of an electric vehicle, the greater the savings compared to a traditional vehicle. Taxation on petrol and diesel vehicles is also increasing, making them a less attractive option. Crucially, for fleet managers and drivers, from April 2020 the ‘benefit in kind’ rate on pure electric vehicles will be zero – which equates to a sizeable financial benefit for companies and drivers.
Using EV charge points to attract customers
For businesses that provide car parking for customers, such as hotels, cafes, supermarkets and other out-of-town retailers, providing EV charge points can help to attract and retain more customers. Providing a place where people can conveniently charge their vehicles for short periods will encourage them to visit your site. While waiting for their vehicle to recharge, they are very likely to shop in your store or make use of your services. Even by allowing customers to recharge their vehicles for free, the additional revenue you earn by attracting customers into your business will more than repay your investment in EV charge points.
Choose the optimum EV charge points
To support the electrification of your fleet you will need to install electric vehicle charging points on your site. Choosing the right charge points for your vehicles and usage patterns is essential.
For office locations where employee vehicles are likely to be parked for most of the day, low-power 7kW chargers may be sufficient. These take approximately half a day to fully charge an average electric car, and involve a relatively low initial capital cost. For distribution depots where delivery vehicles come and go regularly throughout the day, rapid charge points (50kW) are likely to be necessary to provide the faster recharging required. Different charge point models may be suitable for distribution businesses whose vehicles are away from site for longer periods.
Renewable energy – the ultimate zero-carbon solution
By installing EV charge points on your premises – whether for staff or customers – you will be supporting the growth of electric vehicles in the UK, and making a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions and air pollution. To complete the zero-carbon picture, you can also switch to a renewable electricity supply contract. That will mean the electricity dispensed from your charge points comes from carbon-free sources, such as wind, tidal or solar power. It’s the ultimate solution to eliminating CO2 from your vehicle fleet, and from any EV charging associated with your business.
However, even if you continue to buy electricity sourced from coal-fired power stations, switching to electric vehicles will make a major contribution to reducing your CO2 emissions. Electric vehicles charged with power from traditional power stations still emit 80% less CO2 than petrol or diesel vehicles.
Growth in electric vehicle sales has been slow over the past decade – but there are signs of an upturn in demand. Registrations for battery electric vehicles (BEV) were up 229% in November 2019 compared to the previous year . By December 2019, there were 255,000 plug-in cars and 8,500 plug-in vans registered in the UK . All indications are that growing public concern about health risks and climate change will make cleaner transport a top priority for consumers, businesses and regulators in the years ahead.
For any business, supporting electric vehicle uptake through fleet electrification and providing EV charge points for employees and customers are important milestones along the road to carbon elimination.