Despite reservations about residual values, range and practicality, a six-month pilot project has concluded that fleets would make ideal ‘early adoptors’ for electric vehicles.
Almost 90% of fleet managers surveyed now feel more positive about incorporating EVs into their company pool.
Crucially, the same percentage felt the lack of public charging points wasn’t a barrier to making the switch.
The study by Cenex – the centre of excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies – saw four electric Smarts based in the north-east of England loaned to a number of councils, universities and private companies.
The two-seaters were used by nearly 200 drivers from 10 organisations.
The users rated the EVs’ overall performance and the charging experience as ‘Good’. They ranked the low noise level and environmental feel-good factor as the biggest highlights. Operators with their own dedicated charging points rated that element of the process better than those without.
“Data analysis shows that the operating regime used by vehicle fleets could provide a successful ‘early adoptor’ market for EVs,” concluded the report.
Graham Telfer, fleet manager at Gateshead Council, was one of those taking part. He said: “The attitudes to EVs from 10 years ago are out of date. The technology has moved on massively, and the cars were well received by staff here.”
However ‘range anxiety’ remains an issue, with users being over-cautious in planning their journeys. On average, the maximum distance travelled was only 25% of the possible range.
But there was no instance of anyone running out of power, though 34% said they felt they might. The report concluded EV manufacturers need to develop more sophisticated systems to accurately predict battery level and usable range.
Meanwhile, Inchcape Fleet Solutions has carried out feasibility studies on a range of zero emission cars and vans.
“We anticipate that electric vehicles will play a significant part in the operation of many fleets in the future,” said Terry Bartlett, Inchcape managing director.
“A number of our utility and public sector fleet clients have expressed an interest in electric vehicles and almost every tender document that we respond to asks us to advise on the fleet feasibility of electric vehicles. It is therefore vital that we have the knowledge and expertise to inform clients on the potential use of zero emission vehicles.”
Author: Richard Yarrow
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