Fleet News

The Big Picture: Leading fleet decision-makers cast doubt on need for national electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Stephen Briers

Congratulations to all our Fleet News Awards winners and highly commended companies. Commiserations to non-winning finalists, but well done on making it to the shortlist. Many didn’t.

Judging the Fleet News Awards is always a highlight as it gives us an insight into new initiatives, outstanding work and great practices, whether it’s a fleet, supplier or manufacturer entry we are scrutinising.

Among the fleets, we saw great examples of cost savings, risk management and compliance, and a growing appreciation for procurement practices focusing on value for money supplier partnerships.

However, the hot topic when we brought the fleet finalists together for a discussion prior to the awards was electric vehicles.

Demand is high, for both pure EVs and plug-ins, with some manufacturers unable to fulfil the order books quick enough.

There was much debate around EV range, with suggestions that 500 miles is less than two years away. Aligned was a decrease in charging times, with 15-20 minutes thought to be on the horizon.

While that may be theoretically possible, it is unlikely with home charging units that are restricted to 7kW (this gives 30 miles of range per hour, according to PodPoint).

Logic infers that increased battery capacity will take longer to charge.

Nevertheless, 500-mile range puts most journeys within reach: few people will need to travel further in one day.

Consequently, do we need a national charging infrastructure, or just home and work? This has implications for both the charging providers and the traditional forecourts as people migrate away from petrol and diesel.

P11D cost remains a hurdle for fleets and drivers, but EV prices will inevitably fall (as will BIK in 2020/21).

The other issue is residual values. They are struggling, especially for mainstream manufacturers, due to a lack of used car demand. We hear that several leasing companies have been hit hard.

This might worsen for the current crop of EVs as longer range models come to market. Why would a second hand buyer invest in a 150-mile EV when they could have 500 miles within a couple of years?

One solution would be battery upgrades for existing models; swap out the old for the new. Hopefully, manufacturers are already giving this some thought.

Author: Fleet News editor Stephen Briers (pictured)

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

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