Managers of would-be EV fleets should consider what incremental steps are possible today to achieve tomorrow’s long-term zero-emission ambitions, says Alfonso Martinez, managing director at LeasePlan UK for Earth Day 2022. 

Two years have now passed since the government took the historic step of bringing forward its ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030, five years ahead of its original deadline. The move signified a pivotal moment for zero-emission transport and showed the world that the UK intended to place EVs at the heart of its 2050 net-zero strategy.  

According to recent data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), battery models now account for almost one in five new vehicle registrations. This is reflected in our own order book, which is now largely dominated by EVs.

Underpinning this is the growing number of businesses committing to electrifying their fleet. Motivated by the cost savings and their commitment to helping the environment, more and more businesses are stepping up and saying: ‘now is the time to make real change and go electric’.

Yet there are serious challenges ahead that the UK will need to overcome if it is to succeed in its electric ambition. A global semi-conductor shortage has resulted in long lead times for some EV models, causing delays in vehicle delivery and threatening to undermine the government’s vision. As such, some companies are having to wait longer to implement parts of their electrification strategy and retain existing vehicles for longer than their normal lease cycle.

Similarly, some businesses are going to struggle to find an electric equivalent for certain mission-critical vehicles within the parameters of their current means and the technology available to them. The EV industry has provided us with solutions to many of the issues we businesses faced on our journey to decarbonisation. But in a few instances, we’re going to have to hold out a little longer.

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EV fleets

Despite all this, it remains as crucial as ever that fleet operators continue to get ahead with their journey to electrification. Failure to do so could mean further delays and the added cost of having to ‘catch up’. They should lean on their leasing partner as often as possible, to help them optimise their strategy and make intelligent decisions about which vehicles to prioritise first. A fully electric fleet is always going to be the end goal. But for some businesses – particularly those with large or complex fleets – their journey is going to require a long-term mindset. Most things worth doing take time; or as the old adage goes: Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Recently, we’ve been helping our customers to do strategic reviews of their driver profiles to help them understand which areas to concentrate on first. This process is important in helping fleet operators to identify priority vehicles, such as those operating within Clean Air Zones or Ultra Low Emission Zones, as well as any quick ‘wins’. By breaking down the electrification of their fleet into smaller, and smarter, short-term goals, companies can make huge progress without the long waits.

For example, we’ve been working with construction giant Clancy Group to realise its short-term goal of electrifying 20 per cent of its fleet by targeting its 400 user-chosen company cars. Its new ‘electric first’ policy encourages staff to choose an EV as their company vehicle, with a wide range of models available through our leasing services. So far, they’ve got 72 EVs on order, with another 45 in the pipeline.

The journey to EV remains as urgent as ever, however, this doesn’t mean that all companies need to deliver on the government’s net-zero vision overnight. Instead, we industry partners need to help them to take incremental, more realistic steps towards electrification which help to deliver on their sustainability goals and wider businesses objectives. These smaller steps will soon add up to something far more significant, and that is where real change is born.

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