The electrification of Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) offers businesses an opportunity to hit sustainability targets, but the road to adoption is paved with a few misconceptions, says Simon Simmons, LCV National Corporate Sales Manager of Alphabet GB for Earth Day 2022.

With increased talk of climate change and business carbon emission targets over the last year, sustainability has become a significant differentiating factor for businesses. The importance of electric vehicles (EVs) within this was confirmed at November’s COP26, where EVs were highlighted as the most impactful environmental change countries needed to make. 

Conversations around EVs are now looking towards sustainable global supply chains and procurement policies as the next focus for businesses to ‘go green’. 

Simon Simmons of Alphabet GB

A key part of supply chains is Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs), facilitating last-mile deliveries and forming work fleets. This makes LCV electrification a clear opportunity for businesses to minimise carbon emissions and hit sustainability targets. 

While some organisations have started to transition to eLCV fleets, many more need to make the change to reach net-zero requirements. There remains some reluctance in the industry to adopt eLCVs due to ongoing misconceptions about the technology. 

These concerns must be clarified if fleet managers are to be empowered with the knowledge they need to transition their businesses.

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For fleet managers, a big hurdle in moving to eLCVs, is persuading the wider business that it’s financially viable. There’s no avoiding the upfront price of EVs, which can be intimidating, yet once Whole Life Cost (WLC) is considered, the figures become much more appealing. 

For example, the fuel cost per mile is cheaper for electric vehicles. Diesel is currently above £1.70 per litre, meaning LCVs can be costly to run with their 100 miles daily in comparison to electric at around 5p a mile. This is under a third of the cost, and before tax savings for businesses have also been noted. Benefit in Kind tax relief remains at competitive rates for the coming years too, so employees can essentially receive a pay rise from personal savings made in tax.

Battery range 

Initially, eLCVs were limited in battery range, failing to offer a suitable business proposition for the miles LCVs traditionally travel, with concerns on how vehicle and load size would also affect battery range.

This is no longer the case for most businesses. Advancement in vehicles and battery technology has seen the journey range increase to circa 200 miles, according to the latest WLTP figures – more than enough for small to medium-sized vans and mileage requirements, with daily mileage journeys often around 100 miles.

When considering how the payload will affect eLCV energy consumption, this can be compared to diesel LCV fuel consumption. Diesel LCVs indicate a 20% increase in fuel use for a 75% payload versus a 0% load, which will be similar when looking at eLCV performance. 

Charging infrastructure

The boom in EV adoption has been mirrored by a surge in charging infrastructure across the UK. For eLCVs returned to a depot at the end of a day, charging is straightforward. It becomes even easier if working with the right partner, ensuring businesses are set up for this.

For employees charging at home, curbside charging points are becoming popular and street furniture is being adapted to enable charging capabilities in some areas. Portable EV chargers currently in the prototype stage, will also offer ‘home charging’ ability to those who are unable to plug-in at their house. 

Why now?

There are many benefits in transitioning fleets to eLCVs, including green credentials, and positive brand and business uplift. Fleet managers must act now and begin introducing eLCVs into their fleets sooner rather than later, to enable businesses to better understand the technology and provide time to ensure it meets operational requirements.

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