Fleet News

More fleets switching to plug-ins: only 28% go to private buyers

Fleets are driving the uptake of plug-in vehicles, with just one in four being registered to private buyers, new data suggests.

The lion’s share – 72% of plug-in cars – was registered to businesses in the first six months of the year which, including July’s registrations, equates to more than 15,000 units – a 45% increase when compared to last year.

Transport Minister John Hayes said: “It is fantastic that so many companies are leading by example and adding electric vehicles to their fleets, and we want more to follow suit. These companies will benefit from the fuel and tax savings that electric vehicles offer, as well as helping to protect the environment.”

However, in terms of market share, plug-in registrations accounted for just 1.7% of the 887,168 cars registered to fleet and business so far this year.

In fact, when plug-in hybrids are taken out of the equation, pure electric cars account for just 0.5% of the fleet market – some 4,000-plus units.

Their market share could be about to increase however, after Go Ultra Low – a campaign group that involves Government, carmakers and trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) – said that more companies have pledged to increase their plug-in fleets.

In total, 65 organisations have now been awarded ‘Go Ultra Low Company’ status since the initiative was launched in May 2016 (fleetnews.co.uk, August 11).

Public and private sector organisations that already use EVs, or offer them to employees as company cars, are eligible to join the scheme, providing there is a commitment for plug-in vehicles to make up at least 5% of their fleet by 2020.

Poppy Welch, head of Go Ultra Low, told Fleet News that the response to the fleet-focused scheme has so far been “excellent”.

Interest has come from both the private and public sectors, ranging from small businesses to the 800-year-old University of Cambridge: an “eclectic mix”, according to Welch, which is “setting an example for the rest of the UK”.

Transport for London (TfL), one of the organisations recently awarded Go Ultra Low Company status, says it will have 120 plug-in vehicles on its fleet by 2018, up from the 16 it operates today and well in excess of the 5% target required.

Lilli Matson, TfL’s head of strategy and outcome planning, said: “Our fleet of electric vehicles keeps the capital moving by helping to maintain the street network and keep buses on the roads.

“It is essential that while doing this we minimise the impact on the environment. The granting of Go Ultra Low Company status is a welcome recognition of our efforts to lead by example and address the challenge of cleaning up the capital’s toxic air.”

Matson appealed for other fleets to sign up to the Go Ultra Low initiative. “I would urge as many of the city’s businesses and institutions as possible to aim for this standard,” she said. “Increased uptake of environmentally-friendly transport creates a virtuous circle of economies of scale, cheaper vehicles and the creation of a mass market.”

The University of Cambridge is one of five British
universities to sign up to the scheme - with its nine EVs currently representing a 9% share of its total fleet. It aims to increase this share to 20% before the end of the decade.

Among the private sector organisations signed up to the Go Ultra Low Companies initiative are Britvic, Co-wheels and Vital Energi.

They all plan to increase the share of plug-in vehicles on their fleets. Britvic currently has 20 EVs and plans to increase that to at least 50 units by 2020 – equivalent to 10% of its total fleet. Operating 70 EVs, car club Co-wheels says it wants to increase its share of plug-in vehicles from 14% to 40% in the next three years, while Vital Energi, with 32 EVs already in operation – 35% of its fleet – aims to increase that to at least 40% by 2020.

Welch concluded: “With more and more electric vehicles now available, we encourage every organisation and fleet to consider switching to electric.”


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  • Ben Green - 23/08/2016 12:35

    Protecting the environment? How do many people charge their vehicles? By burning fossil fuel to create electricity and nobody mentions the end life of the vehicle and disposal of the batteries. Good for the pocket but protecting the environmentally? I don't think so.

  • Will Mowlam - 14/09/2016 12:48

    @Ben Green Hope this helps answer your questions... "Protecting the environment?" Yes. Air quality in the environment is improved for all; not just the very young, very old or those with breathing difficulties. Air quality in the environment is a very serious matter for these groups. Improved air quality is also good for wildlife - our little pollinator friends the bees are highly sensitive to pollution and without them, our food gets very expensive if crops need to be pollinated by hand. "How do many people charge their vehicles?" Mostly at home and at night, when a large percentage of electricity is generated from low carbon sources (nuclear and renewable) and lower carbon (eg highly efficient Combined Cycle Gas Turbine) compared to in the day (coal). Many with electric cars also have solar which can produce most if not all of the electricity (5kWh) that an electric car will consume on the average UK car journey (20 miles). "Nobody mentions the end life of the vehicle and disposal of the batteries." At the end of their high drain life in a vehicle, the batteries are perfect to be used to store power in the home. Nissan is doing this with their V2G (Vehicle to Grid) home battery product - a re-purposed electric car battery. With V2G, the smart grid can utilise plugged in vehicles to smooth out the demand on the national grid, thus making electricity cheaper for everyone and using less daytime high carbon energy sources. Lastly, many are not aware petrol and diesel is refined using vast amounts of electricity. I heard that the one in Wales consumes roughly the equivalent electricity as the city of Coventry!

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