Going all-EV is great, because it lowers a company’s fleet CO2 emissions significantly and instantly. But what else can the country’s fleet managers do to help their business go green? Tristan Young investigates.
Cutting your fleet’s tailpipe emissions is one of the steps to net-zero, but as the UK moves steadily toward an all-electric transport strategy, company car managers need to look beyond what emissions their vehicles produce and on to the wider decarbonisation of transport.
With the role of fleet or transport manager often wrapped into that of the company HR department, the options for lowering your business’s environmental impact are extensive.
The top tip from Paul Hollick, chairman of the Association of Fleet Professionals, is to educate staff.
Hollick explained that for those running an electric car, “one of the big things you can do is to help your employees select a better energy provider”.
He added that not only should drivers be looking for a provider that has a cheaper overnight rate for charging but if possible a sustainable energy tariff.
However, he was quick to highlight that for fleets and businesses costs are still likely to be the key driver, and only a few organisations and individuals are putting environmental matters ahead of costs.
For those businesses that do, the wider corporate social responsibility and staff education comes into play in a stronger way, and can even go as far as encouraging employees to think about what they are eating, with an emphasis on more plant-based meals.
Hollick’s single largest advice point for businesses is to consider the total number of vehicles their staff run; both company cars and private cars.
He said: “My belief is, if an employee wants to take a car allowance, but doesn’t want to run a car, they should do it, and that will help. Because that starts you
on the road of changing your mindset.
“You’re starting to think in a way that is socially responsible; it’s probably the best thing, that’s the best place to start, more than anything.”
Measures still can be put in place to make sure staff are using the appropriate, safe, transport methods if a fleet chooses to go down this route, according to Hollick.
“The other issue is having a mileage bar, say at 9000 business miles, to a company car. This is a dangerous place to be because you’re encouraging the drivers to drive those miles to be eligible for a car.
“It’s a dangerous place to be, because you need to think from a psychological perspective, you’re actually encouraging your employees to drive more.”
PICKING A GREENER DEALER
It’s not just fleets that are looking to improve their sustainability. Car dealers are now doing the same – particularly those that are listed on the stock market as investors increasingly look for green credentials.
Company car managers can make use of this to help their own corporate social responsibility (CSR) position.
Richard Blumberger, Marshall Motors finance director and environmental, social and governance (ESG) lead, explains: “I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do, and I’m very passionate about it. I’m passionate about our image, us having the right image to the world, to the people we recruit and the customers. I want them to think they’re buying from a company that really is taking this seriously.”
To demonstrate how seriously Marshall Motors is taking its environmental approach, Blumberger is introducing targets for energy consumption for each dealership.
“In terms of what do we want to do, we’ve started capturing our CO2 emissions, our carbon footprint, starting to set ourselves targets around where do we want to be in six months, 12 months, 24 months, five years,” he adds.
As a group, the retailer spends around £3 million a year on electricity, so while the ESG strategy is not about saving money, it can help keep costs in check.
Looking at the bigger picture, including staff commuting is something facilities and fleet management firm Mitie has been running as part of its Plan Zero sustainability programme. The scheme aims to reach net-zero operational carbon emissions by 2025 and already has a fleet of 1700 EVs, which will be at 2000 by the end of this year.
Mitie has switched all offices to 100% renewable energy providers and has launched several services to help customers reduce their own impact on the planet both for fleets and wider business operations.
The firm also has plans to meet tougher ‘Scope 3’ net-zero emissions by 2035. This target goes beyond the firm’s operations and covers employee commuting, working from home, and supplier businesses.
Simon King, director of sustainability and social value at Mitie, said: “From creating the UK’s leading electric vehicle fleet and switching our offices to renewable energy, to launching the first zero-emission landscaping services and planting 2,000m2 of wildflowers, Mitie has made great progress in the first year since we launched our net-zero commitment. However, continuing to push ourselves further, faster, has always been the ethos of Plan Zero. By setting these new targets we’re putting our words into action and helping Mitie, and our customers, become sustainable, sooner.”
Car makers are also looking at their emissions as a whole and not just in terms of tailpipe CO2 figures.
Leading in this respect is Polestar. The manufacturer has very publicly declared its intention to be the most sustainable car brand in all aspects of its operations.
“In April 2021, Polestar announced the Polestar 0 project, a moonshot goal to create a truly climate-neutral car by 2030, without the use of offsetting through measures such as tree-planting. Polestar aims to be fully climate-neutral across its value chain by 2040,” said Polestar’s head of sustainability, Fredrika Klaren.
She added: “We want to help change the narrative around climate change so that we start focusing on what actually creates impact. And we want to inject hope. Our company contributes to the exponential growth of solutions that can transform our world and build a sustainable society, and we are open to share what we do and collaborate to make that transformation happen.”
When every car maker is selling electric vehicles, it will be this approach that fleet managers will need to keep in mind when looking for further improvements in their overall environmental impact.