Fleets need to consider issues arising from a ‘home working, home charging’ model being created by the adoption of electric company cars and the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
That’s according to FleetCheck, which says that an important new subset of company car drivers is emerging, which work largely from home and will choose an electric vehicle (EV), because of low benefit-in-kind (BIK) taxation.
Peter Golding, FleetCheck’s managing director, explained: “We’re seeing a new type of fleet user start to appear in small numbers who, in a matter of years, might become even become the typical fleet car driver. This is someone who last year probably covered 20,000 miles a year in a diesel company car but thanks to the coronavirus situation is probably next year going to halve that figure with video conferencing and intends to minimise their personal tax by choosing an EV.”
Golding says that this “emerging employee” creates a number of issues fleet managers need to tackle, probably the most important of which is risk management.
He explained: “These are vehicles that will rarely be seen by fleet managers on the company car park and there need to be auditable processes in place to ensure that they are regularly inspected for safety and general condition.
“Of course, this should already by happening for all your fleet vehicles but there is an argument that these home-based EVs are particularly vulnerable.”
Golding argues that this is underlined by the fact that the service and maintenance characteristics of EVs will mean that many require expert technical attention less frequently than their petrol or diesel equivalents, so will potentially infrequently visit dealer or other workshops.
He says that the second major area of concern surrounded fair reimbursement of expenses for charging vehicles from home, an area that was still in a state of flux.
He continued: “There is now, of course, an AFR rate of four pence per mile for EVs but we believe that fleets should be carrying out their own calculations to ensure that this amount is fair and representative of what employees are paying. It is quite a blunt instrument.
“It is also arguable that employers should be helping home working, home charging drivers to ensure that they have some form of fast charger fitted at home in order to make most efficient use of their EV. Businesses may want to consider paying for these in part or full.
“There may also be an argument to ensure that drivers have access to journey planning tools to enable them to make the most of their EV’s range and access charging on route.”
FleetCheck believes that similar issues are likely to appear with the arrival of electric company vans that were just starting to become available on the market and be adopted by fleets.
“These are only around in tiny numbers so far but the arrival of new models, almost as we speak, will see this change quite quickly,” he said.
“The issues are very much the same as for company car drivers. It’s all about ensuring compliance and treating people fairly.”