Fleet News

Arval’s real-world data helps companies understand potential of ULEVs

Fleets are being given the opportunity to understand whether ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) could work for them through data gained from a series of real-world tests.

Arval’s fleet consultancy team has produced the Alternative Fuel and Technology Car Review which gives a detailed assessment of 14 fully-electric and hybrid cars.

The vehicles have been driven around a 28.9-mile route next to the company’s headquarters near Swindon, which incorporates motorway, urban and town driving.

They are then benchmarked against a BMW320d EfficientDynamics saloon and compared to the fuel efficiency figures and range claimed by the manufacturer.

Importantly, the guide also includes wholelife costs relating to each vehicle, their tax position and details around the charging infrastructure and Government grants that are available.

Arval consultant Paul Marchment said: “We need to be in a strong position to advise our customers about the type of technology that will work for them. This provides us with the ability to do just that.”

He recognised around 18 months ago that members of Arval’s sales team were receiving an increasing number of enquiries from customers keen to understand more about the different powertrains available.

However, it wasn’t just customers that were confused about the suitability of ULEVs; sales staff were struggling to get to grips with the technology too. “I started thinking there’s not only the opportunity to educate our customers, but we can also provide our sales team with the tools to do their job even better,” said Marchment.

“We wanted to demystify some of the technologies coming on to the market, especially when the manufacturers all use different terminology.

“For example, you have mild hybrids, micro hybrids, plug-in hybrids, passive hybrids and somebody might think what’s the difference, how do they work and would that work for me?”

Arval hopes it is now equipped to provide those answers through its guide, which is already in its third edition after being updated to include the latest ULEVs to hit the market.

Its continuing efforts to help fleets engage with new technologies comes as Alphabet launches its new business consultancy service called AlphaElectric.

Richard Schooling, CEO of Alphabet, said: “Our new service, AlphaElectric, aims to walk fleet managers through a simple four-step process that takes away the stress and misconception about EVs.

“We’re confident that through initiatives such as ours, we can easily help to double EV sales again next year.”

Marchment told Fleet News that Arval has no intention of resting on its laurels. With an increasing number of ULEVs coming on to the market, the guide will updated on a quarterly basis.

It currently doesn’t carry any information on light commercial vehicles, but the next edition will feature the electric Nissan eNV200, the Mercedes-Benz Vito and the Renault Kangoo. These will be driven around the test route empty and then again carrying a load. 

Vehicles already featured in the guide will also be tested in the dark and the rain to see what impact that might have on their performance.

“What we don’t want to do is criticise these vehicles,” said Marchment. “We’re trying to be as objective as possible because all these products work really well in the right place. We simply try to make a recommendation as to where these products would fit into a fleet.”

The five-strong consultancy team, which is headed by Mike Waters, senior insight consultancy and CSR manager, includes an LCV specialist, an expert in corporate social responsibility, and Marchment and a colleague, who are both focused on traditional and alternative fuel technologies.

They welcomed 20 fleets and five brokers to their Swindon HQ for a technology day last week, which was aimed at giving customers further insight into the potential of ULEVs.

A series of presentations in the morning were followed up in the afternoon with a range of plug-in vehicles available to drive around a six-mile route, including the Tesla Model S. They intend to repeat the event early next year.

Click here for electric cars and hybrids best practice and procurement insight

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