While fears over the future of the electric vehicle subsidy remain and questions of the residual values of EVs are still in the air, fleets’ other main concern over electric vehicles – that of their limited range – may be about to be resolved.
It is arguable that one of the new electric cars about to come to market from Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi, Peugeot or Citroen will be of much use to a typical company car driver.
An electric car will get him to his office and home again. He may even be able to use it to get to a nearby meeting and back. And that’s it. The truth is that a business driver doing more than 100 miles a couple of days a week will find an electric car an ineffective work tool.
That is unless Better Place, which has just got $125m investment from HSBC, creates a UK subsidiary to provide an effective solution to the range issue preventing manufacturers from getting their electric cars onto fleets.
A range of 100 miles is about average for these new breed of cars, and that drops should the driver turn on the lights or the air conditioning, drive with a heavy right foot or take it up lots of hills. So they are not suitable for many fleets. Local urban delivery fleets can and do make use of EVs in increasing numbers.
But car fleets are stuck with combustion engine technology.
An answer however may come from Better Place. The company, which was created two years ago and has already established subsidiaries in Israel, Australia and Denmark, provides the answer to the range problem by swapping batteries at centres such as existing petrol filling stations.