David Hosking, chief executive at Tusker, has become a staunch advocate of the merits of electric vehicles for fleets in certain situations, after driving an all-electric Nissan Leaf for more than 5,000 miles over the last six months.
Hosking wanted to understand firsthand the merits and possible pitfalls of electric vehicles so decided to take a Nissan Leaf as an interim company car.
To get the full experience of driving an electric vehicle, he drove the Leaf on a 38-mile regular commute twice a day without major mishap, recharging the vehicle at no-cost at a special charging point close to Tusker’s car park during the day, available though Source London, the new, city-wide electric vehicle charging network.
When driving the Leaf, he did find that he needed to plan longer journeys very carefully to ensure that, if the total journey was more than 80 miles, he always had access to a recharging point to ensure the car was fully charged for the return leg of the journey.
This was relatively easy to ensure by using the masses of information available on the internet on the location of charging points. However, this didn’t help when he arrived at one NCP car park in Knightsbridge to find that access to both charging points was blocked by a large 4X4 driver who had ‘thoughtfully’ parked across both spaces rendering them useless for anyone needing to use them!
Tusker has now made an even greater commitment to using EVs for its own employees by adding them to the company car choice list and investing in two dual-socket recharging posts installed in the car park at the company’s new offices in Croxley Green, Hertfordshire.
With a £5,000 Government grant, low recharging costs and 0% Benefit-in-Kind taxation, rising to 5% from 2015-16, EVs’ low running costs only start to make sense against the typically higher front-end costs if they are used on a very regular basis, says Hosking.
“There is little doubt in my mind that EVs have a use within a corporate environment. They are ideal for the daily commute provided the range is limited to around 70 miles per journey and there is access to a charging point during the day,” he said.
“There is a belief in some quarters that EVs are only suitable for short, occasional journeys but my view is that they are more relevant for short, repeated journeys, such as the regular commute to work.
“Then, the very low running costs make a lot of sense against the higher front-end costs that the EVs currently incur. I was running the Leaf at practically zero cost compared to my previous diesel car which cost around £60 a week in fuel for the same journeys,” he said.
Hosking added: “However, I don’t think EVs are always appropriate for a typical field-based national sales force that travels the country, because they may not have the necessary range so you would need to make sure there were fast charging points en route.
“But for a sales rep working from an office in a city with only short journeys to see clients, and with ready access to recharging, then EV use would be ideal for them,” he said.
Hosking said that EVs had seen limited uptake in the salary sacrifice sector where Tusker is market-leader with over 125 live schemes in operation.
“I am not convinced that will alter massively in the short term - certainly until purchase costs start to come down. However, new models coming onto the market are beginning to change perceptions,” he said.
“Personally, I am now a convert to the undeniable benefits of an electric vehicle for my particular circumstances and am currently looking at which electric vehicle to choose as my permanent company car.”