The UK’s fleet, commercial vehicle and truck sectors have been experiencing an unprecedented period of change over the last few years. The Volkswagen’ emissions scandal of 2015 further undermined people’s faith in diesel and has precipitated a steady decline that has led many industry figures to announce the death of diesels. While this may sound dramatic given how many diesels remain on our roads and how many are still being sold – 36,941 in 2019, a drop of 27% according to new SMMT figures – the trend is firmly down and manufacturers such as Volvo have already pledged a zero emission future.
Consumer demand for cleaner vehicles, the government’s obligations to clean up our air (which is causing 60,000 premature deaths annually) and the widespread introduction of ‘Clean Air Zones’ (CAZ), areas where drivers are charged to enter a city, have added further pressures. At the same time manufacturers have started getting their electric vehicle acts together so that across the board – from cars to vans to trucks – electric vehicles are becoming a realistic commercial option.
So, what does the electric vehicle revolution mean for UK businesses? In this new blog from Coversure – one of the UK’s leading truck, commercial vehicle and fleet insurance brokers – we’ll look at how these sectors will be affected by this revolution and how the future looks cleaner, greener and cheaper for all…
Electric Commercial Vehicles: Setting the UK Scene
10 years ago, electric vehicles were mainly limited to hybrid drivers who were committed environmentalists. Today sales are flourishing. In 2019 sales of plug-in hybrids rose by 34.8% to 4,362 cars, while hybrids were up 15% to 6,118 vehicles. This means that they now have a 10.2% market share and that figure is rising month-on-month.
The major barriers to widespread adoption have always been range, cost and charging points. Let’s look at these in turn:
• Range – not so long ago the best electric vehicles could do around 100 miles on a charge. That’s moved on lot. The 2020 Vauxhall Corsa-E will do over 200 miles and, at the time of writing, the best electric vans on the market have a range of around 174 miles on a single charge. Given that, according to Renault, most van drivers do less than 62 miles a day, that is more than enough
• Cost – electric vehicles do cost more to buy. Sticking with our CV example, Renault’s Kangoo Z E 33 – including the plug-in grant – is £23,232 vs £15,850 for the diesel. That’s a big difference. The good news is that prices are falling as demand rises, but it will be a couple of years before parity is achieved
• Charging points – arguably the greatest sticking point has been a lack of charging points. Our fleet insurance customers have often told us that they’d love to switch to an EV fleet but the prospect of having drivers stranded as they can’t charge up is a massive issue. This is fast becoming less of a problem. In August 2019 Nissan revealed that there were 9,199 EV charging stations across the country, compared with 8396 fuel stations and that the former are rising fast
The traffic then is firmly one-way in EVs favour, but what does it mean for the fleet, CV and truck sectors? Let’s take a look:
• Electric Fleet Vehicles – this is probably the easiest of the electrification areas. Fleet drivers are also private motorists and, as we’ve said, they are already switching to EVs in droves. They will also be conscious of the tax benefits of low emission vehicles as these are much lower than for conventional fuels and home-charging is already an easy option. Fleet managers like them as they are cheaper to run and are said to more reliable so will have less time off the road. Leasing companies like them as they are in-demand and it will help their brands’ meet their environmental commitments. Take up is gathering pace, though until ranges are extended many will seek the comfort of hybrids
• Electric Commercial Vehicles – if there’s one sector that’s been dependent on diesels its CV. From taxi drivers, tradesmen to couriers, the faithful diesel has been as big a part of their daily lives as passengers, tools or parcels. That though has to change. Between corporations such as Amazon and the Post Office pledging carbon-neutral deliveries, CAZ making the cost of entering cities prohibitive – London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) costs cabbies £24 to use – and cities like Bristol, Oxford and Cardiff are considering outright bans, change is inevitable. While this will bring short-term pain, it should bring long-term gain. EVs are much cheaper to run; The Department of Transport estimates that the cost of charging a standard electric van such as a Nissan e-NV2000 is about £1.50 and on that you’ll be able to drive for around 100 miles. Depending on what you are paying for diesel, it would cost you somewhere in the region of £12 to do the same mileage
• Electric Trucks – lorries, trucks and HGVs are perhaps the greatest challenge to electrification. Payloads, distances and cost of changing vehicles means this was always going to be a long, slow road to change. Many thought it couldn’t be done, that creating a vehicle that could carry the load using nothing buy battery power was madness. Daimler were the first ones to launch theirs with the eCanter – much to Tesla’s fury whose Semi was thought to be the first – and now Mercedes, MAN and IVECO have models. The impact these vehicles could have on reducing costs, emissions and access issues is as huge as the loads they can carry. It will take longer for these to become the norm, but even here EV will have its way
Are Electric Dreams About To Come True?
So, as we can see the electric vehicle revolution means an awful lot for UK businesses. It promises a cleaner, more sustainable transport network and it will also bring savings in terms of running costs – not least potential fleet insurance and commercial vehicle insurance costs owing to improved reliability and simplicity of repair. This is a revolution that is also unstoppable. Governments, businesses and individuals are all calling for less pollution and with manufacturers staking their futures – and billions in investment – the bright, green future we all crave looks like its just around the corner…
Like Some Commercial Vehicle Insurance Help?
If you’d like some more commercial vehicle, fleet or truck insurance help, then please contact you local Coversure office and they’ll be happy to give you all the assistance you need. To find your local Coversure, click here now.