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Fleets transitioning to electric power was a key topic at Move, one of the UK’s largest annual mobility conferences.

Combining electric vehicles with a salary-sacrifice scheme is a “no-brainer” according to Fiona Howarth, chief executive officer at Octopus Electric Vehicles, an offshoot of the energy provider, because it helps staff get into a new EV at minimal cost.

 

Move Conference 2020 - Fiona Howarth, CEO, Octopus Electric Vehicles, says an EV user will save thousands

Fiona Howarth, CEO, Octopus Electric Vehicles

She claimed that a worker on a base salary of £60,000 a year could save £350 a month (from £800 month to £450 a month), over the course of a typical three-year contract, on the cost of a Tesla Model 3 thanks to the reduced National Insurance and Benefit-in-Kind bills compared with leasing the vehicle through a personal scheme. That’s more than £12,000 in total.

“And that’s before you factor in fuel savings,” she said. “In 2021/22 they’ll pay £14 a month in BIK and £29 in 2022/23.”

She added the monthly payment includes protection should the employee leave the company early, allowing the firm to hand the car back early and not be lumbered with an expensive – and possibly unsuitable – asset.

IKEA TO GO ZERO-EMISSIONS BY 2025

Home furnishing giant Ikea is to make its entire company car and van fleet zero-emission by 2025 at the latest. The move is in response to the confusing clean-air-zone policy landscape from city to city.

Angela Hultberg, head of sustainable mobility at the firm, blasted a lack of clarity from central Government over future vehicle standards for towns and cities that are adopting Clean-Air Zones.

“There is no Government harmonisation and we’re seeing cities doing their own things and this is becoming difficult. We cannot create policy based on technology, it has to be about the end result and what we’re trying to achieve,” she told Company Car Today. “If we go all-electric we cover everything so it isn’t all about having to keep track of ‘what’s the policy in London? What’s the policy in Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester?’”

Howarth also used the event to launch a fleet-specific energy tariff to potential customers, whereby a smart cable – carried in the employee’s car at all times and used whenever they plug in at home, at work or when out and about using public networks – allows fleet managers to monitor energy usage alongside traditional petrol and diesel fuel bills from fuelcards.

“If you run a fleet and you’re wondering ‘how much is my employees’ energy bill?’ this can do it. It also integrates with data from Fleetcor’s fuel cards, so as you transition from only having a few EVs alongside petrol and diesel vehicles, you can report on your EVs and your petrol and diesel cars at the same time,” she explained.

While many electric-vehicle naysayers will point to a shortage of charging points as a sign that a mass-market adoption of electric vehicles cannot happen yet, Roy Williamson, vice-president of mobility at BP (which owns Chargemaster) claimed the lack of speed from the Government is hindering progress, rather than the oft-touted reason that companies are not interested in growing the public charging network at a pace.

“The infrastructure has been a challenge, but it is getting solved and there are a couple of issues the Government could help with,” he explained.

“We rolled out significantly fewer ultra-fast chargers last year, not because we didn’t have the capital or the appetite, nor because we didn’t have the planning in place, but because we didn’t have the necessary infrastructure in place. It is about the physics of putting the infrastructure below the ground in place to make it work. We can sort out the above-ground stuff and the business model but we really need the infrastructure to be there.”

Move Conference 2020 - Graeme Cooper, Head of Electric Vehicles, National Grid - says the National Grid must step up

Graeme Cooper, Head of Electric Vehicles, National Grid

This view is backed by Graeme Cooper, National Grid’s head of electric vehicles. “If we get this right, nobody is going to thank the energy networks, however if we don’t get it right the blame is going to fall on energy networks. This is not about National Grid doing charging, this is about the energy networks providing the right capacity to enable a consistency across the UK and to instil confidence,” he said as he urged the Government to plan ahead more.

“If we are going to make a significant dent into decarbonising transport we need to get on with stuff. In a past life I was a wind farmer and I had to wait seven years for a grid connection, so you can see infrastructure takes time.”

Daniel Puddicombe