Electric vehicles (EVs) have been on the market for a number of years. In fact, at Lex Autolease we introduced our first mainstream plug-in vehicles into customer fleets early in 2011. While there has been a lot of focus on the growth of electric cars, it is only more recently that attention has turned to electrifying LCV fleets.
One of the driving forces behind the electrification of LCVs is the significant advancement in EV technology. It’s estimated that the total cost of ownership (TCO) between an electric LCV (eLCV) and a diesel LCV will be the same by 2020 - and by 2030, electric will be £15k less.
There are three main factors that are driving the TCO down. The battery, which is the core technology for electric vehicles, has dropped in price by 79% since 2010, while the average energy density has improved 5-7% per year. The servicing costs for an EV are anywhere between 40-60% lower than for a petrol or diesel vehicle, due to the lower number of moving components. Costs for fuelling electric vehicles are also decreasing.
Another important consideration leading to the drive to electrify fleets is an increased awareness of the environmental impact of vehicular mobility. Transport is the biggest source of air and noise pollution in the UK, and surface transport is responsible for 27% of total carbon dioxide emissions in the UK.
In response to this, policy changes are being implemented, from which LCVs will be significantly impacted. This includes the London ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) launched in April 2019, as well as further plans for Clean Air Zones (CAZs) to be introduced in Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham and Derby. There are also another 28 councils drawing up plans, and a further 33 still to carry out feasibility tests for more CAZs. The impact of this on LCV fleets sends a clear message, supporting the use of EVs. It is estimated that 1.2 million vans on the roads in the UK are older than Euro 3 and will have to pay fines to drive within the ULEZ and CAZs.
The business case for eLCV fleets is becoming stronger every day, especially in urban areas where vehicles travel 40-100 miles a day. Combined with regenerative braking features that allow for predictable charging in stop-and-go traffic, there are sufficient fuel savings to accommodate any downtime associate with charging. This is where the market manufacturers will be focusing their attention on in the next 5-10 years.
One key enabler of the move to electric vehicle adoption, particularly in the LCV space, is the need for appropriate charging infrastructure to support adoption. Fuel stations are leading the way. BP recently entered the market with its purchase of Chargemaster in June 2018. With BP Chargemaster’s 6,500 existing charging points and BP’s own retail network of 1,200 service stations across the country, it is well positioned to provide fast and ultra-fast charging through the POLAR charging network. Tesco and Volkswagen have also teamed up to add 2,400 new EV chargers over the next three years at 600 branches of the supermarket retailer - and some of them will be free to use. Shell is also on the move to add electric charging at its fuel stations, and Ionity’s partnership with Octopus Energy (an energy technology specialist that provides 100% renewable energy) will provide peace of mind for drivers and businesses alike.
- KPMG. The rise of electric, shared and autonomous fleets. 2019.
- UPS and GreenBiz Research. Curve Ahead: The future of Commercial Fleet Electrification. 2018.
- EV charging points what you need to know May 24 2019
- Department of Transport, UK. Transport Statistics Great Britain 2018. 2018.
- BBC News. Clean air zones: Where will UK drivers pay for polluting? NA.
- Manheim. Important factors facing the LCV market in coming years. 2018.