Fleet News

Companies hope to drive uptake of EVs as fleet attitudes remain static

Public attitudes towards plug-in cars and vans have remained virtually unchanged over the past two years, new research suggests.

Department for Transport (DfT) statistics, published in the past two weeks, show that 1% of motorists are thinking about buying an electric car or van “quite soon”.

A further 5% were also considering investing in a plug-in vehicle, but gave no timescale as to when they might make their purchase.

The results of a similar study in February 2014 showed the same results, on both counts.

The DfT research comes in the wake of a survey by the AA which predicts there will be more than 500,000 electric (EV) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) in use by 2020.

There are currently some 75,000 plug-in cars registered in the UK.

Based on a survey of more than 26,463 AA members, it suggests that 4% intend to buy an EV or PHEV.

However, significant fears over the higher price, limited range, long recharging times and uncertain residual values of hybrid and electric cars stand in the way of their uptake by fleets, according to a survey by Sewells Research and Insight.

In its The UK Fleet Market 2016 report, Sewells found that fleets are ready to adopt alternatively-fuelled cars, but only in tiny volumes.

Companies expect the proportion of alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) on their fleets to rise to 1.5% next year, 2.5% in three years’ time and 4.7% in five years.

While this represents an increase in market share of 213% in five years, it still leaves more than 95% of company cars  powered by fossil fuels.

Overall, 81% of fleet decision-makers say manufacturers must overcome range issues, 77% say recharging times of EVs need to be shortened, and 73% want to see more recharging points.

It is clear that fleet demand for hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles will continue to increase, but experts say that if full-electric cars are to succeed range must be improved and the Government must play its part in encouraging uptake.

The AA has teamed up with Chargemaster to help drive uptake by offering home charging units, access to “thousands” of charging points and preferential charging rates.

With a network of more than 4,000 Polar charging points already and 500 new locations planned for 2016, Chargemaster has undertaken a multi-million-pound investment to expand the UK’s charging infrastructure.

It is currently rolling out 40 50kW Ultrachargers in London that will charge an EV in less than 30 minutes, more than quadrupling the availability of rapid chargers inside the M25.

The AA’s research suggested that the availability of charging points was a concern for 81% of respondents.

“We want to change that perception,” said David Martell, CEO of Chargemaster.

“This new relationship with the AA will see hundreds more AA-branded charging points installed. They’ll go in at AA-rated hotels and other accessible public places such as supermarkets, public car parks and town centres, while we will be embarking on a public awareness campaign to show that charging a vehicle at home is neither difficult or costly.”

Charging a plug-in vehicle using Ecotricity’s motorway network just got a lot more expensive, however.

The electricity company has introduced a £6 fee for a 30-minute charge using its motorway network.

The charge, which was introduced from July 11, is applied to all users that are not Ecotricity home electricity customers.

Access to the network and payment will now require the Ecotricity app.

Initially, it had proposed a fee of £5 for a 20-minute fast charge, but that was met with anger from the network’s users. Fleet News reader Carl Nicholson said: “Considering the electric is roughly 13.5 pence per kilowatt hour why not charge a fair rate? This will harm the adoption of EVs.”

The charge was revised to £6 for a 30-minute charge following customer feedback on the £5 fee, said Ecotricity.




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