Following the Government’s decision to delay the go-live date of its ban on new internal combustion engine (ICE) car and van sales by five years to a new 2035 timeframe, some British drivers have welcomed the news, whilst others have shared disbelief and criticised the choice.
According to The Fleet Outlook Report from the 360 Media Group, 65% of fleets have admitted that whilst sustainability has remained a crucial consideration for UK fleets, they are choosing to delay their plans on transitioning to electric vans due to the energy crisis and the unpredictable economy.
As part of the report, up to 400 interviews took place with place UK based fleet professionals in Q1 2023, all in an effort to collate buyer perceptions on their plans, goals, and future requirements. The research then revealed that the most significant issues for van and commercial fleet decision makers are electric vehicle focussed, mainly being the planning, implementing, and charging of EVs. However, 22% of those asked did specify that they plan to add electric vans to their fleet at some stage within the next 12 months.
The report also highlighted that 71% of van and commercial fleet operators also plan to invest in depot charge points in 2023, a figure which has remained consistent for the past three years, despite the ownership of premises, cost and driver resistance all being noted as the primary investment barriers.
Ian Richardson, co-founder of 360 Media Group accompanied the report data by writing in Cox Automotive’s latest quarterly insight, AutoFocus, commenting that overall, there had been an “impressive” uptake in EV sales over the past three years, though also stressed that concerns about affordability and charging infrastructure show no sign of abating.
Cox Automotive’s insight and strategy director, Philip Nothard, added further that “fleets continue to lead the way in the decarbonisation of road transport, and so it’s no surprise that many are concerned about charging infrastructure… on the part of the Government and OEMs, much more needs to be done to educate them and move more fleets further along the path to EV adoption.”
This is evident with the latest estimate from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) stating that electric LCVs now account for 7% of all new vehicle registrations, with this figure also expected to rise to 7.3% by the end of 2023.
But the report also dives deeper, highlighting that confidence in the vehicle supply chain returning to normality is actually quite encouraging, with 48% of fleets expecting to see an improvement over the coming months. What’s more, as the UK van market has recently exceeded 4 million vehicles, a total of 49% of businesses are confident that the number of LCVs they operate will increase in the next 12 months to cope with increased demand.
This leaves fleets with no option but to “do more to engage with van drivers and find adequate charging options,” according to Richardson, as “with 30% of fleets not intending to invest in workplace charging, drivers will require a local charging solution instead, one which is not at their homes, as 40% of drivers have reported they cannot or will not charge at their personal address.” For local authorities, this means that working with them to access reliably safe charging points is absolutely essential if it stands any chance at being sustainable.
Whereas for fleets, their decision now lies with whether making the switch to electric vehicles has a better return on investment (ROI) overall, as the energy crisis does mean that the cost of charging an EV has increased, and it can’t be avoided.
The key consideration here is that whilst yes, EVs may be too much of an expense in the current energy climate, it’s not just energy prices that have increased around the globe, the price of petrol and diesel has also spiked too.
Despite electricity prices going up, EVs are still cheaper to run compared to petrol or diesel counterparts. It’s also worth remembering that as well as lower running costs, ongoing servicing and maintenance costs of an EV is also cheaper, and fleets will also be exempt from paying clean air zone charges or congestion charges. This makes going electric still a good option to save money in the long run.
Egertons: we’re ready when you are
The run-up to 2035 will bring more change to the automotive industry than it’s seen in the past 50, and Egertons are here to help every step of the way to rescue, recover and protect your fleet; electric, petrol or diesel.
We’re here to keep your vehicles on the road, above all else. And we’ll be right here when you need us.