In the second episode of our LEXperts series, Commercial Vehicle Manager at Lex Autolease, Andy Hill, explains the factors affecting the choice of vehicle as commercial fleets transition towards an electric future.
Lexperts episode 2
Staggering your transition to an electric fleet
Andy starts with a frank admission. Transitioning a Commercial fleets is far from an easy task:
“It's very complex. If you compare it to transitioning a car fleet, there's so much more to think about with vans. Companies don't have a van as a lifestyle choice, they have it as a tool to do a job. So, you have to make sure that that van will fulfil the need that it's meant to do.”
This added level of complexity means that transitioning to electric in one fell swoop just isn’t on the cards.
Instead, fleet managers must look at their own specific requirements and then marry them up with the electric vehicle choices currently available.
It may sound like a limited approach but, as our LEXpert Abigail Krumins, Senior Manager, Sustainability, explains in the film, it’s an effective starting point: “The right vehicle at the right time for the right journey. Using those basics can make the transition feel much less daunting.”
Staggering the journey
Effectively, this is about staggering your electrification journey.
And, according to the team, exactly how that journey is staggered will depend upon 5 key factors:
- FUEL: “Essentially,” says Andy, “there are only two options here. You either stay with ICE vehicles ─ that’s diesel or petrol ─ or go for battery electric. There are a couple of options for hybrid, but they're a little bit niche and they don't really fit very many people's needs at the moment.”
- RANGE: “Range anxiety is something we hear a lot about in electrification,” notes LEXpert Melanie Holmes, Customer Relationship Manager. “It’s certainly a valid consideration with vans in particular because they may not fit on the charger point spaces, they encounter along a particular line of route. We can help with that by advising on transitioning the ‘easy’ vehicles first with a focus on those that can do a whole day's work on one charge and then charge overnight, ready for the next day.”
- BATTERY: “Battery technology is one of the most encouraging developments we can point to for transitioning fleets,” says LEXpert Melanie. Andy explains that most manufacturers will give a warranty on their batteries of around about eight years and should not really be a concern for you: “If you come to a company like Lex Autolease and lease your van through us, you'll typically be keeping it somewhere between three and five years. So, it's really not going to be a concern to you.”.
- PAYLOAD: LEXpert Chris Chandler, Principal Consultant, explains the considerations around payload: “It is a fact that payloads are lower for battery vans simply because their powertrains (particularly the batteries themselves) are heavier. Andy mentions how the government have helped with that recently through the driver licence derogation, and that really is going to make a big, positive difference. The other point to bear in mind is that if you speak to us we can offer a wealth of experience gained by working with van operators who’ve faced exactly the same challenges.”
- INFRASTRUCTURE: Andy takes up the story again by highlighting charging infrastructure: “The biggest cost is probably going to be installing an infrastructure to charge the vans if you need to do it. That is a really big concern. Lots of people will only lease their premises, so it's a big commitment to invest that money into premises that you ultimately don't own. This is another area where a careful choice of vehicle will make a critical difference and where we’ve already helped lots of customer decide what works for them.”
Right partner, right time, right journey
We began this article by acknowledging the importance of choosing the right vehicle at the right time for the right journey.
Finding the right partner to support you through fleet electrification can be equally essential in achieving the best outcomes.
Partnering with an experienced co-driver on this ride is only going to make the journey smoother. With expertise and innovative tools, the team at Lex Autolease can help identify opportunities to chip away at what you need to get done and plan an efficient transition that's right for your business.
As Andy concludes: “Finding an experienced transition partner is really important because there are lots of expensive mistakes that you can make, and lots of considerations you need to work out. We’ve seen them all before ─ so we can steer you away from them in good time.”
Information correct at the time of filming, April 2023.
Opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect that of Lex Autolease.