Electrifying Business Vehicles: Key Considerations

Prepping your business for an electric fleet is no mean feat. But asking the right questions and involving the whole business will ease the process.

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“There is a lot of noise from businesses that have integrated EVs, that others may feel they are lagging behind,” says Jon Hanson, Climate Lead – Mobility, Lombard. “Marketing departments are keen to gain the publicity of adding EVs to their fleet. But remember that while 100 electric vans, for example, sounds sizable, it may only be a small proportion of a fleet. Don’t panic if you don’t feel fully up to speed.”

The key, he says, is to evaluate where your business is on the journey, and typically you will find yourself at one of these stages:

  • At the beginning
  • Have lots of information, but it needs analysing to provide value
  • You have assessed the information but can’t find a suitable solution
  • The product may match a proportion of your fleet’s needs and you have identified a trial
  • Have a whole fleet ready to go

Regardless of which of the above your business falls in to, you need to answer two big questions:

     1. Do you have stakeholder engagement? Changes may be needed throughout the business, so cross-collaboration is vital. Make sure all relevant departments are clear on the ambition and timelines and on board with these plans. Successful vehicle transition can no longer be the sole responsibility of those in charge of the physical vehicles.

    2. Do you fully understand your fleet? Every fleet is different. As a result and to support successful transition, it’s important to know what your business needs are in respect of: 

  • Mix of vehicles within the fleet and driver perception to electrification
  • Usage patterns and distances travelled
  • Payloads and towing requirements
  • Additional equipment, including charging availability for drivers and external fitments
  • Terrain of vehicle use and driver behaviour
  • Vehicle downtime and location

Gathering this insight to support decision-making can be made significantly easier through gathering information around the existing fleet and its usage – ­telematics can play a key role here. With often more complex usage and operational requirements, transitioning a light commercial vehicle (LCV) fleet can create additional considerations.

“There is a lot to consider when approaching eLCVs,” adds Jon. “Every business has unique demands on their fleet, and so the transition to electric is worth investing the time for detailed thought. Even businesses that pause at this stage should prepare for when they will make the switch: to them I’d say that the data you gather from your ICE fleet today will be invaluable in the future. Utilising telematics is central to the eLCV transition.” 

But what about charging?

Your drivers are most likely to have passed their tests in an ICE vehicle. So while they are naturally familiar with the petrol/diesel pumps these vehicles require, they understandably may have questions around electric vehicle charging. As a nation we will need more charge points over the coming years, but encouragingly we are making significant progress. Both the number and speed of chargers is increasing and in early 2023, the UK’s public charging network is thought to consist of approximately 39,000 devices, with around 64,000 connectors.

To boot, more than 7,400 of our public charge points are either rapid or ultra-rapid, with the ability to charge a vehicle to 80% in 25 to 40 minutes.

Number of charge points in the UK

That said, the government is keen to support investment in the charging infrastructure, including by businesses investing in their own private charging needs. Support is being provided as follows:

  • The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS). Through this, businesses receive vouchers worth £350 for each of the first 40 charge points they install. Businesses should consider making use of this whilst it is on offer, incentives such as these are finite.
  • 100% First-Year Allowance (FYA). This is a tweak to accountancy/tax rules for various assets and can be used by businesses installing charge points. It is scheduled to last until March 2026.

Many businesses will need to consider both the distribution and access to chargers throughout the UK, as well as the quantity and types of chargers they install for their own fleet to ensure they are ready for their electric future.

As ever, Jon says, do your research first so the businesses reaps the benefits of a sensible investment. 

“Electrifying a fleet is no easy task, and there is plenty to think about. But businesses should focus on the long-term benefits of the transition – regardless of when they go about adding their first electric car or LCV. The effort is worth it, and the process we believe is getting easier as time goes on.”

Let Lombard support you to accelerate the electrification of your vehicles 

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