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With UK carbon targets now aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% before 2027, how does the prospect of driving vehicles that save 20ppm in London and 7ppm outside London compared to conventional diesel sound? Worthy of accelerating strategy planning inside your company? Our report published last week between Cenex, Energy Saving Trust, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, The Climate Group, Transport for London (TfL) and TNT’s Planet Me division certainly outlines this level of emissions savings as a possibility if electric vehicles (EVs) are involved.

More than half of all new cars in the UK are bought by fleet owners and our report Plugged-in Fleets, shows that in the right circumstances, as well as cutting carbon emissions, introducing EVs to these commercial fleets can reduce both energy consumption and costs for businesses.

As demonstrated by the EVs being used by leading businesses including Sainsbury’s and GE parked at the London report launch last week, EVs are rapidly emerging as a viable alternative to conventionally fuelled vehicles. Coupled with the fact Government is now offering grants that effectively target fleet decision makers, it’s clearly the right time to consider the right move towards fleet electrification.

The UK has taken a leading role with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) on the electrification of road transport. This is owing to pioneering work by Julia King for the treasury, and reinforced by the work of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, in its review of the auto industry in the now pioneering New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (NAIGT) report chaired by Richard Parry-Jones.

Personally I think the UK has since slowed its pace - so here lies the perfect opportunity to put the foot back on the high-powered electric engine and accelerate towards an electric future.

Our report was launched with the PIVG to reinforce the Government’s work. It outlines simple formulas for understanding the duty cycle, evaluating available vehicles, and doing the maths on total cost of ownership, for a solution that works for business - and boosts good press for the technology too. We focus on total cost of ownership because this is how businesses work.

Electromobility has a whole different cost structure – higher upfront costs and lower running costs – but we show that this can work for business in certain ‘sweet spots’ now. Calculate the right mileage per day and the right incentives, and you have a deal.

But it’s not just about saving money is it? While we do believe that this is important, we also think it’s about expanding businesses opportunities. Competitive advantage is crucial and will sway future business decisions. Conversations about air quality, ‘doing the right thing’ and socially responsible companies are beginning to weave into decision making. Government and local authority contracts are seeing residents voting for more night time operations reducing daytime congestion and enabled through silent vehicles, and air quality hotspots where zero tailpipe vehicles can clean up as well as deliver the goods. Transport white papers in Europe are even debating the banning of internal combustion engines in city centres. It’s the future and it’s starting now.

The report has mapped this exciting way forward and is already catalysing the market. In March, TfL will fund a competition to undertake detailed analysis work with leading fleets operating in the UK and London. This project will take the report’s work and develop it to further drive EV deployment in 2012 – a year which looks to be great for electromobility, building on the start in 2011.

By supporting leading fleets in their decision making and showing how EVs can work practically and commercially, we believe fleets can play their part. We are not suggesting it works everywhere, but we are suggesting that the purchase of EVs for fleets works NOW.

Written by Robin Haycock
Thursday, 01 March 2012 12:12

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