Electric Vehicles: A Silver Bullet For Nottingham?

Electric Vehicles: A Silver Bullet For Nottingham?

From cars to vans, trucks to heavy plant vehicles, electric vehicles (EV) are appearing everywhere. Since the VW emissions scandal of 2015, drivers of all kinds of vehicles have been looking to greener, cheaper alternatives. In 2015 there were just 720,000 EVs on the world’s roads. By 2020 that number had risen to 10.9m and the International Energy Agency has predicted that by 2030 there will be 230m.

Over the past six years demand for electric vehicle insurance quotes has gone from a standing start to a steady trickle to a flow. At first it was, predictably, for private cars but as tax burdens for fleet drivers rose and emissions restrictions became ever tighter so fleets, commercial vehicle and even truck insurance customers started enquiring about EV insurance.

The revolution has been eagerly supported by a range of manufacturers. General Motors says it will make only electric vehicles by 2035, Ford says all vehicles sold in Europe will be electric by 2030 and VW says 70% of its sales will be electric by 2030. Add to that the likes of John Deere, Daimler and Tesla producing truck and plant vehicles and you have an industry-wide change at hand.
For cities like Nottingham this change is of huge significance. 411,000 people work in logistics in Nottingham and Nottingham has a chronic air quality problem. While there has been talk of a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) or similar system of traffic congestion charging, the Council have been wary of damaging local trade and placing barriers in the way of logistics industry growth. If couriers, fleets and trucks make the switch to EVs, that could lead to a significant reduction in pollution levels without damaging this vital sector.

Now that sounds like a win-win to us.

So, what is fuelling this change and what of are the traditional barriers to change – lack of charging points, lack of vehicle range and vehicle costs? Well as the following shows these have been overcome and the future is green.

EV Costs

Historically there’s been two sides to this story. On the one hand the cost per mile of an EV has always been markedly lower. The Department of Transport, for example, estimates that the cost of charging a standard electric van such as a Nissan e-NV2000 is around £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.

Electric vehicles are also more reliable and cheaper to repair as they are mechanically simpler. For fleet owners this reduces costs by keeping vehicles and drivers where they belong – on the road.

On the other the cost of vehicles has always been higher. Lack of production, huge development costs, the benefits of lower running costs and, now, demand outstripping supply have kept costs high. For example, Renault’s Kangoo Z E 33 price – including the plug-in grant – is £23,232 vs £15,850 for the diesel. With plug-in grants of £3,000 for a car and up to £5,000 for a van and grants for installing charging points, these costs can be reduced.

Even insurance costs can be higher. A Tesla 3 can cost up to 45% more to insure than a BMW 3 owing to desirability. Across the board though, costs are much the same and are likely to fall as they become mainstream.

One area where EVs add value is in terms of vehicle charging areas such as London’s Congestion and Ultra Low Emission Zones and Birmingham’s new CAZ (Clean Air Zone). The latter can cost up to £50 to enter and if you’re a haulier or fleet owner with vehicles going in and out on a regular basis, the costs can soon mount up. Electric vehicles are exempt from these charges and have free access to city centres – something that may become important if cities like Oxford and Bristol go ahead with their plans to ban polluting vehicles altogether.

EV Charging Points

A long running concern – especially for fleet and courier firms who need to cover long distances – this has no longer an issue. With 35,000 charging points in the UK (7,000 were added in 2020 according to EDF) there are far more charging points than petrol stations. In 2020 there were just over 8,300 filling stations and these are either destined for conversion or closure. Chargemap shows that there are 18 points in Nottingham’s centre alone. Add to this the ease of home or office charging and this is another issue that needn’t worry potential users of electric CVs.

Vehicle Range

In the past when we’ve spoken to our fleet insurance and commercial vehicle insurance clients about going electric their response was often enthusiastic but with the range caveat. Not so long-ago electric cars were struggling to break the 200-mile range barrier, while vans and trucks needed a charge after only 70 or so depending on their loads. Today cars can go over 300 on a single charge – more than enough to get you from Nottingham to London and back. The best vans such as the Citroen Berlingo or the Nissan eNV200 – will comfortably do 100 real world miles, which, while not enough for courier, will be plenty for a tradesmen’s daily needs.

The other range problem has been the choice of vehicles. A few years back it was either an £80,000 Tesla or a milk float. Today all manufacturers – the most recent being Lotus – have pledged themselves to an all-electric future. The ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars in the UK in 2030 (and potentially as early as 2025 in the EU), environmental concerns and a new way to boost struggling sales has focused manufacturers’ minds. At the time of writing most big brands have EV equivalents of popular models and give it another five years it will be a struggle to find a new vehicle that isn’t either an EV or a hybrid.

Electric Trucks

Tesla, as is their wont, looked to shock the world with their electric semi-truck concept in 2017, only to have their thunder stolen by Daimler who got their truck into production first. Seen by many industry observers as the most technically challenging and environmentally important breakthrough in road transport, electric trucks are now a reality. Volta, Volvo, Scania, Daimler and Tesla all have vehicles either on the market or close to it. With 40-50% of road emissions in the EEA coming from lorries and other heavy vehicles, there’s a significant clean air bonus associated with these trucks.

Take up thus far has been sluggish. The European Automobile Manufacturers Association figures show diesels still accounted for 97.9% of medium and heavy truck sales in 2019 while hybrid electric registered 0.1%. In fairness the cost of these things – a Tesla Semi will set a haulier back around £130,000 – and the way that most smaller hauliers will have a vehicle for many years before changing will slow diesels decline. Bigger truck fleets such as those used by Waitrose, M&S and Ocado have begun investing in EV and hybrid trucks, and Amazon have recently pledged to be carbon neutral by 2040 which will mean their trucks will need to be electric.

Electric Fleets: The Silver Bullet For Nottingham

For a city with poor air quality and a significant economic stake in the logistics sector, the commercial electric vehicle revolution is a breath of fresh air. It will provide an economically sustainable future for a key industry and allow our growing population to breath easy. Now that sounds like a silver bullet to us!

Need Insurance For Your Commercial Vehicle?

If you’d like a competitive quote on high quality commercial vehicle insurance – be it for a van, truck, or piece of plant equipment, then please get in touch. Our experienced team will be more than happy to help you get the cover you need for an affordable premium. To find out more please call Coversure Nottingham on 0115 837 5592 or start your commercial insurance quote here.

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