September 28, 2022
With climate change and emission reduction becoming more and more important in the modern world one area that businesses can really make a change is with their fleet. A substantial amount of a business’ emissions can come from their vehicles so it’s an area where you can really make an impact in reducing your carbon footprint.
Why Have a Greener Fleet?
There are many reasons to transition to a greener fleet:
- Improved emissions - with lower pollution and reduced noise and light emissions
- Lower costs – fewer charges in low emission zones, cheaper road and company car taxes and many more
- Better fuel efficiency – in hybrid and more eco-friendly models with an internal combustion engine (ICE)
- Improved reputation for greener company practices – such as running a greener fleet, encouraging EV take up within your business
There are a few ways that you can transition to a greener fleet and we’ll explore the most popular options below for you.
Introducing Electric and Hybrid Vehicles
There are many benefits to electric and hybrid integration and you can find a full breakdown of them all in our guides to electric vehicles but we want to highlight some of the best reasons for making the switch:
- It will save you money – lower “fuel” costs, generally lower maintenance needs and costs, lower company car tax, road tax and exemption from low emission zone charges
- It will reduce emissions – for your business and the area around you and not just in terms of pollution but also noise as EVs don’t have the noisy internal combustion engine
- It will make you a greener company – reducing your carbon footprint and be a relatively easy improvement your business can make to move towards being a more sustainable business
Hybrid vehicles and fully electric vehicles are different and so will bring slightly different benefits and challenges with them, so we want to break down the challenges and how you overcome these separately.
Challenges of Integrating EVs into a Fleet
One of the main challenges that businesses face with transitioning to an electric fleet is the concerns of their drivers and these tend to be focused on two main areas – mileage range and charging.
Range Concerns with Business EVs
When electric vehicles were first introduced their range between charges was fairly low and many drivers still think of the ranges as being similar to this when they’re not. Battery size and capability have improved massively and there are a lot of models that now achieve over 300 miles on a single charge.
Additionally, an EV’s range does not need to be considered on the same timescale as you would a traditional vehicle as charging an EV can easily and affordably be done more regularly. We generally advise you think of an EV range in terms of daily need as most drivers will be able to utilise home or workplace chargers in order to charge their vehicle daily.
Charging Worries with EVs
Not only do drivers worry about the range but there are also concerns about the charging itself. There are three main areas of concern:
- Location of chargers
- Speed of charging
- Cost of charging
There are a few different strategies that you can use to combat these concerns. The most obvious option is to have chargers installed in your workplace car parks. If you have private parking available for your business premises then you’ll be able to add the necessary infrastructure for electric charging points for your drivers. This will allow them to charge while in the office so they don’t need to worry about using the public network or costs of having a home charger installed. There is a workplace charger scheme available to help with the cost of purchase and installation of these units.
You can read more about workplace chargers in this article on why businesses should invest in EV chargers.
As EVs become more common across the country public chargers are becoming more common and offer faster speeds of charging. This makes charging in general more accessible for drivers if they’re unable to use a workplace or home charger and with faster speeds there’s less concern about having to spend hours waiting for your car to charge.
The cost of charging an EV remains cheaper than filling up with a tank of traditional fuel even in the current climate and you’ll find that even if your drivers make the most of workplace chargers that the cost to you will still be lower than paying for fuel cards and the fuel drivers use.
Training Your Drivers for EVs
With both charging and range concerns one of the best ways to combat them is to educate your drivers. Providing them with all the information on the advances that have been made in these areas and how they can easily avoid charging or mileage range from becoming a problem for them. Depending on your business this may be through a series of meetings, leaflets and similar physical resources or even training on EVs.
Training is an essential part of helping your drivers to understand electric vehicles, how they work and how to drive them the most efficiently. There are some differences between driving an electric vehicle and one with an ICE.
For one thing, all electric vehicles are automatic as they do not have the manual gear transmission as you get with some petrol and diesel vehicles. If a driver has not driven an automatic vehicle before then they may need additional support to get them comfortable with driving one.
Additionally, there are a few habits such as braking slowly in order to recapture energy that is usually lost through the regenerative braking technology that drivers may be unaware of but that will make a significant difference to their mileage range and charging frequency. Training will help your drivers know what these habits are and how they can use them.
Challenges of Hybrid Vehicles in Your Fleet
Hybrid vehicles combine an electric motor and battery powered system with the traditional ICE system and so they have a unique set of challenges that don’t quite match either.
Driving a hybrid vehicle is a little different to driving a petrol or diesel car as it uses some of the same technology an EV’s do, for example most will recapture energy usually lost during breaking in order to provide additional charge to the battery and extend the electric range.
For hybrids that require charging in order to recharge the battery there will still be the same concerns about finding a charger, how long it takes to charge it and how long a charge will last them. These concerns can be eased in the same way that you would for drivers worried about charging an EV through additional information and training.
The electric range and how it is best utilised will vary between hybrids as some will have a pure hybrid range and others will simply use their electric features to support the combustion engine at key moments where additional power is needed. Most businesses will opt for a combination of the different types of hybrids in order to best suit their vehicle needs and in order to effectively do this their fleet teams really understand the different types of hybrid available and the drivers who they best suit. To learn more about the different types of hybrids why not have a look at our business hybrid guide.
As driving a hybrid will be different to driving a petrol or diesel vehicle driver’s attitudes can again be a challenge. You’ll need to invest time and funds into driver education, training and support in order to overcome this and encourage them to embrace the incorporation of hybrids in your business fleet.
What’s the Cost of Electrifying Our Fleet?
Electric and hybrid vehicles are typically more expensive to purchase or lease because of the cost of the parts and labour needed in order to produce them. This can initially add to the cost of your fleet which is why we think it’s important to gradually transition when moving to an electric fleet to minimise the impact of this and to avoid taking a large financial hit.
The overall lifetime costs will often balance out though with generally lower maintenance costs, lower fuel costs, no penalties for driving in low and zero emission zones and tax incentives like low company car tax. The financial implications of switching to EVs or hybrids are a critical part of the decision to electrify your fleet, but we think it’s important to consider the lifetime costs as a whole as well as the initial outlay.
Maintaining an EV Fleet
One area where having an electric fleet can be both a benefit and a challenge is in its maintenance. Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts which means that there’s fewer components where wear and tear can lead to more regular or expensive repairs, especially as they do not have the combustion engine which has many parts that can need replacing or repairing in a vehicle’s lifetime. However, if something does go wrong with an EV it can be more costly than if a petrol or diesel car encounters the same problem and this is because there are not as many mechanics with the training to work on an electric model which means the labour costs go up.
Regular vehicle inspections can help you spot any problems early on and you can get these repaired quickly in order to avoid more expensive repairs. We’ve recently written about this and other downtime reduction strategies if you want to learn more about this.
Another way businesses can avoid large unexpected costs is to look at maintenance support, through a fleet manager like us you can pay monthly for maintenance costs on your fleet vehicles and if there is a larger issue we can help work with our contacts to reduce the cost of this for you.
We’ve recently written about a lot of different aspects of EV integration in our blogs on how much money switching to EVs could save your company and whether you should be investing in electric vans if you would like to learn more about integrating EVs into your fleet.
Challenges of Hydrogen Powered Cars in Business Fleets
While EVs are the most popular zero emission vehicles on the market they’re not the only option. We’re seeing an increasing number of manufacturers looking at alternatives such as hydrogen fuel. These cars use hydrogen fuel to create electricity and power the electric motor system within a vehicle.
Unlike electric cars there isn’t as much information available on hydrogen powered vehicles, and some drivers might not even know that they are a viable option for them. Making drivers aware of this option is a relatively straightforward process, your fleet support team will simply need to provide additional information for drivers on them. This may simply be a case of updating a section of a website or a brochure or it may be creating a separate informative document depending on your business’ preference.
Another challenge that drivers of hydrogen powered vehicles face is finding a fuel station that offers hydrogen isn’t as easy as simply finding a petrol pump or plug socket but as the market continues to grow so will the number of fuel stations. This will be something you want to take into account when looking at if hydrogen fuelled vehicles are appropriate for your fleet though as there’s no point getting vehicles where there are no convenient service stations for.
Investing in More Economical ICEs
It may not be possible of practical for you to fully electrify your fleet and if this is the case for your business then an alternative that still lets you become a greener fleet is to invest in more economical petrol and diesel vehicles that are cleaner for the environment and cheaper for your books.
We’ve recently selected our top 10 picks for greener company cars and you might find this a useful read if you’re looking for some of the best alternatives to EVs for a greener fleet.
Enjoyed this article? Read more of our latest blogs below:
- How to Reduce Your Fleet’s Downtime
- Should We Invest in Electric Vans
- Celebrating World EV Day
- Why You Need to Get on with Your Fleet Manager
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