The idea of electric vehicles is one that the fleet industry has, rightly, been getting excited about only the past few or so. Here at Coversure we’ve seen the number of enquiries for electric fleet insurance rise dramatically. Up to now most of the advances in electrical vehicle technology have surrounded cars with relatively little having been done for commercial vehicles such as electric vans and electric trucks. That though is about to change as the world’s biggest trial of electric commercial vehicles, Optimise Prime, gets underway in the UK.
Optimise Prime: The Electric Commercial Revolution
The UK energy regulator Ofgem approved the electric commercial vehicle trial on 30th November 2018 and itis being led by Hitachi Vantara and UK Power Networks. The trial will last for three years and see up to 3,000 electric vehicles from Centrica, Uber and parcel carriers take to the road. The vehicles will take to the roads in Greater London as part of a project to gather information that will help the UK prepare for and speed up the process of the transition to a greener and more efficient commercial fleet future.
The trial is supported by the distributors Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, Hitachi Europe and Hitachi Capital Vehicle solutions. It brings leading power, technology, fleet and transport companies together to figure out and test the best approaches to the electric vehicle generation for commercial operators.
Investing In A Sustainable Commercial Vehicle Future
Funding into this crucial piece of green vehicle technology research will come in the form of £16.6 million from Ofgem and a further £18 million from the project partners and is projected to provide savings of more than £200 million in benefits to UK electricity customers. The project aims to determine practical ways of overcoming the up-front costs that are presently holding back many of the country’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturers from taking the decision to go electric.
Currently the UK’s biggest commercial vehicle manufacturers must overcome many obstacles before they take on electric vehicles as a large-scale power move. These vary between charging times, battery life and the up-front capital hurdle.
Network operators also need to gain a better understanding of the impact electric vehicles could have on the UK power grid. They are also looking understand if these vehicles can support the electricity network and help keep the prices low for customers by discharging at peak times and re-charging off-peak.
Electric Vehicles: Their Time Has Come?
Electric vehicle technology has reached the point where the vehicles are ready for commercial use, both for day-to-day and long-distance journeys. However, there is a concern that moving the energy source for transport from combustion engines is not what the national electricity grid was designed for regardless of the charging happening in concentrated locations – such as depots – or is spread across the country at employee’s homes or in public spaces such as supermarkets.
The project is vital if the UK wishes to meet its carbon reduction targets. The accelerated plan of adoption of commercial electric vehicles will save 2.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). This is the equivalent of London’s entire bus fleet running for four years straight or a full Boeing 747-400 flying around the world 1484 times. One of the many benefits the plan offers is that the flexibility provided by the project will also free up enough capacity from the electricity network to supply a million homes.
Electric Vehicle Sales Drive
New electric vehicle sales must increase from 1.7% today to 60% by 2030. The project aims to deliver an end-to-end overview of what the switch to electric vehicles means for the stations that give electricity to the community and businesses that need to invest in new infrastructure.
By using large, real-life data and the Internet of Things technologies, the project will create a detailed picture of the current demands of electric fleet and private hire vehicles. This will make it possible to work on solutions that will cut the cost of owning and running electric vehicles, such as charging them outside the grid’s peak times.
The Optimise Prime will launch in early 2019. Following the programme design and build phase, the first vehicles will be on the road during the second half of 2019. The test area includes a range of urban, suburban and rural locations across the South East, South Central and the East of England.
Electric Vehicle Charging Point Numbers On The Rise
It is already becoming easier than ever to find affordable charging points for electric vehicles across the UK. Volkswagen have partnered up with Tesco to provide free charging points at some of their supermarkets across in 2019 and they plan to install almost 2,500 at 600 stores by 2020. The standard 7kW charger will allow customers to charge their vehicles whilst they shop. Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons also have electric vehicle charge points at some of their stores, but these a relatively small compared to Volkswagen and Tesco’s plans.
Plenty of personal and commercial electric vehicles are due to come onto the market over the next few years, largely as a result of strict EU emission rules due to come into force in 2021.
Like Some Commercial Vehicle Insurance Help?
We hope this glimpse into the future of commercial vehicles has been of interest. If you would like some help insuring your commercial vehicles – electric or otherwise – then please get in touch with your local Coversure Insurance broker today.