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Business group aims to help fleets adopt electric vehicles

Electric car plugged in to a charge point

The UK Electric Fleets Alliance has been launched to promote a faster switch to electric vehicles (EVs).  

The alliance – a new partnership between The Climate Group and BT Group – wants 100% EV sales nationwide by 2030, combined with policies to enable businesses to make the switch. 

It says it intends to lobby ministers to bring forward the UK target of 2040 to end petrol and diesel vehicle sales and to make clean road transport a priority for next year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow.

Transport minister Grant Shapps has previously said that the Government could be open to bringing forward the potential ban.  

The Climate Group’s global initiative EV100 is already seeing many leading businesses commit to 2030 and is calling for the UK Government to match the ambition shown by BT and Openreach, along with many others fleet operators. 

EV100 members have already made combined commitments to fleet electrification that will see over 2.5 million vehicles switch to zero emissions by 2030, plus commitments to company-wide EV charging roll-out for staff and customers that will see charge points deployed at over 3,000 company locations. 

In the UK this includes 29 corporate fleet commitments (60,000 vehicles), three leasing company commitments (600,000 vehicles), and 25 staff/customer charging commitments (380 company locations to have EV charging installed).

BT Group is already a member of The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative and committed to convert its commercial vehicles to electric where it is the best technical and economic solution as part of its world-leading strategy to achieve net zero emissions by 2045. 

Philip Jansen, BT Group chief executive, said: “We have an outstanding record in reducing carbon emissions and have plans to be a net zero emissions business by 2045.

“The switch to low and zero emissions vehicles is a key element in our carbon strategy and this new partnership will be critical in allowing us to make the switch.

“We hope that this coalition will help drive the necessary bold action from other businesses and policymakers needed to transition to the low carbon economy.” 

Transport is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK and roadside air pollution causes thousands of premature deaths every year.

A rapid transformation of the UK’s vehicle stock from internal combustion engine (ICE) to electric is a vital part of the solution for both public health and the climate emergency.  

Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, said: “Targeting 100% EV sales by 2030 is critical for hitting the UK’s net zero emissions goal and setting a powerful example of climate leadership to other countries as they prepare their coronavirus recovery plans and their climate pledges for next year’s COP26 summit.  

“BT and Openreach are fantastic partners, not just making the commitment to transform their own operations to zero-emission solutions like EVs, but also making advocacy for the net zero transition a key pillar of their campaigning work.

“We know there is broad appetite for this transition in the UK business community and we look forward to growing the Alliance and engaging with the Government on this crucial issue.”  

The Alliance will publish a policy position shortly, calling for 100% EV sales in the UK by 2030, with measures to stimulate supply of EVs and promote investment in charging infrastructure.

The 2030 target applies to cars and vans, but recognises the need for careful consideration of specialist vehicles (such as hoists, poling and cabling vehicles) where electric options are not yet available, and will work with industry to explore innovative solutions going forward. 

Clive Selley, CEO at Openreach, said: “With the country’s second largest fleet of vans, I want Openreach to play a leading role in the UK’s transition to low carbon vehicles. But there are still some major hurdles to overcome.

“For example, the kinds of vehicles, scale of manufacturing, supply-chains and infrastructure needed to electrify large fleets like ours simply doesn’t exist today. So we need Government support to make the transition faster and fuller, and the commitment to maintaining plug-in grants is a welcome first step.” 

In April, the Alliance held its first virtual workshop, bringing together 14 businesses for a presentation from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and a discussion on business and policy priorities for accelerating the switch to EVs. 

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