Stuart O'Brien, Author at Fleet Summit
  • Covid-19 – click here for the latest updates from Forum Events & Media Group Ltd

Posts By :

Stuart O'Brien

The WhichEV View: Help your employees save thousands with a salary sacrifice scheme

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

By James Morris, Editor, WhichEV

As part of its push toward a carbon neutral economy, the government is encouraging companies to set up a salary sacrifice scheme to help employees get huge savings on the latest electric vehicles. Essentially, the cost of the vehicle is taken from an employees salary, before it is considered for tax.

As a result, a sizeable chunk of income, becomes tax free. When a company leases an electric car, the whole cost can be deducted as a business expense. The company essentially functions as a go-between, passing the lease cost on to the employee. The employee effectively pays the business lease amount to their employer, so the company doesn’t pay anything to provide the car to their employee, other than the time it takes to administer the deal.

For a 40% tax payer, the ability to deduct a £400 lease payment from your gross salary will save you up to £160 a month. That would be a saving of £5,760 over 3 years. You also have a potential saving of almost £1,300 on National Insurance. Combined, in this example, the employee can be looking at a saving of more than £7,000.

The BiK is also close to zero, which represents another saving against a petrol or diesel vehicle. Worth bearing in mind that all of these savings happen before you get to the lower running costs and, in the case of Octopus EV, the included bundle of free electricity – very welcome in today’s climate!

Best of all, a good salary sacrifice scheme from a supplier like Octopus EV is quick and easy to set up, and takes around 15 minutes a month in admin time. You can get a detailed quote by clicking here.

Read the full story here.

BEV Charging – A question of kerbside capacity

596 396 Stuart O'Brien

By Sascha Spillner, Account Manager at Avnet Abacus

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) owners – and prospective BEV owners – face an interesting conundrum. While home charging might be largely situation dependent (straightforward with a dedicated off-street garage, near-impossible in an high-rise housing development), public charging remains a complex issue. In parallel, there are exponentially increasing pressures coming to bear on public BEV charging capacity. 

In the UK specifically, one in 10 new cars sold in 2020 was a plug-in vehicle, with 6.6% battery electric cars and 4.1% hybrid cars that can be potentially plugged in, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. This is broadly in step with the UK Government’s aim to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030 in favour of purely electric powertrain or hybrid vehicles, having moved that date forward from 2035 recently. 

Meanwhile, there are currently more than 39,500 public charging points at 14,600-and-counting locations ranging from petrol stations to hotels and supermarkets, according to Zap-Map, a specialist app that enables BEV drivers to find the nearest chargers, or plan a longer journey with access to charging. 

Layers of fragmentation a key challenge

However, there are multiple layers of fragmentation here, building into a complex overall picture. For example, there is the question of outright compatibility for different vehicle types – looking at that alone, Zap-Map’s rapid charger figures show a rise from just over 30 CHAdeMO connectors in 2011 to over 9000 rapid connectors across CHAdeMO, CCS, Tesla and Type 2 Rapid chargers by the end of 2020. Then of course, there is the all-important speed of the charge point, sometimes dictated by location. Ultra-rapid for a fossil-fuel style motorway stop, such as the Gridserve Braintree pilot in Essex, slow for residential trickle charging overnight.     

Even this metric is bedevilled with context – the greatest increases year-on-year in UK BEV charger capacity are in the slow (3-5kW) and fast (7-22kW) categories, with rapid (25-99kW) and ultra-rapid (100kW+) lagging behind. Part of the reason behind this is a surge in local authorities installing on-street charging options for the millions of car owners without off-street parking facilities. 

Private-public partnerships raise hopes

Just one example of this in action is Siemens partnership with Ubitricity, which has delivered over 1,300 chargers across Greater London and more than 2,300 nationwide, based around a concealed ‘SimpleSocket’ solution retrofitted into lampposts and in new kerbside bollards. The charge speed varies by installation, but is often in the ‘slow’ charge category – Siemens has issued figures pointing out that most EV’s reach full charge in 3.4 hours, but are plugged in for 7 hours on average – presumably mainly due to residents charging overnight. 

The company has also worked with Westminster City Council to create ‘the UK’s first fully converted lamppost charging street’ in Sutherland Avenue, W9, which now has 24 converted ‘SimpleSocket’ lamp posts. Interestingly, as Ubitricity notes, local councils can access special government funding to pay for this type of conversion, but local residents need to apply to councils and request one. Even once this has been done, ‘don’t hold your breath’, says the Ubitricity site, due to the many factors that can potentially hinder rollout, not least technical considerations. Retrofitting charge points that use existing street furniture and electrical connections hit a laundry list of caveats, including the condition of the internal wiring, whether the lampost has enough space for extra fuses and charge point electronics,  the exact position on the pavement (too far back and a kerbside bollard is required), and local traffic and parking conditions. 

Operator unification required

While public-private partnerships of this kind are making some headway in resolving the question of kerbside capacity, the inevitable fragmentation in service provision raises another barrier for users, in that they currently need to maintain multiple customer accounts to ensure they can use different provider’s facilities. Some providers require full registration, others operate pay as you go-style options, while others simply require a pre-authorised payment card to be presented. Currently, UK charging point operators break down as Ubitricity (14.9%), Pod Point (11.9%), BP Pulse (11.5%), ChargePlace Scotland (7.5%), Source London (6.6%), Tesla Destination (5.1%), and a host of smaller players at sub 3% market share each – a market crying out for a unified membership and/or billing system. 

Government funding in the wings

That said, there is specific funding in the pipeline, with the UK Chancellor’s November 2020 Spending Review dedicating a section to detailing where a £1.9 billion investment in charging infrastructure and consumer incentives will be channeled. A pot of £950 million is earmarked to support the rollout of ‘rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging hubs at every service station on England’s motorways and major A-roads’, £275 million to extend support for charge point installation at homes and workplaces, and a further £90 million to fund local EV charging infrastructure. 

There is certainly much to be done to deliver widespread charging capacity over the coming years on almost every level. From national infrastructure to local government, business providers to manufacturers, collaboration will be key to success, not only on a purely practical level, but also to inspire motorists of all stripes to make the switch. An interesting knock-on effect or ripple from this need for public-private collaboration will undoubtedly be felt in the wider transport ecosystem, where deployment of new standards such as V2X technology has also been stalled by the lack of established relationships between the key players. Sometimes driving trust can be as big a challenge as creating kerbside capacity…    

Sascha Spillner is an Account Manager at Avnet Abacus, where he helps automotive design engineers with the latest technological challenges, including developments in on board chargers and v2v communication.

Fleet efficiency: Four tips for stress-free fleet operations

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

By Lightfoot

Pivotal to the success of any business is the need to optimise performance. As any successful operations director will know, getting your workforce and goods from A to B safely and cost-effectively is no straightforward task.

These four fleet hacks should make all the difference.

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Fleet management made easy with PayByPhone

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Controlling costs, avoiding information overload, satisfying compliance regulations – the to-do list for a busy fleet manager is long and complex. That’s why services that help manage large, on-the-go workforces are at the top of any business-critical needs list. But now parking payments are one less thing to worry about, thanks to a new solution from PayByPhone, the global leader in mobile parking payments.

PayByPhone Business brings a company’s parking under one easy-to-use, centralised system so fleet managers have visibility over all parking activity in a simple solution – one app and one interactive dashboard are all you need.

Simplified management

PayByPhone Business is scalable, so there is no limit to the numbers of cars a company can add to the system, and for added convenience, they can be added in bulk. Fleet managers can add, remove and authorise drivers and vehicles easily and even assign drivers to specific vehicles. Payment can be made from one credit card for all drivers for maximum simplicity. And for added security, once a driver or vehicle is deleted, the associated business payment card will immediately be removed, safeguarding the  account.

With the detailed Reporting Suite, PayByPhone Business users have real-time visibility of who is parking where and when. Multiple reports are available including historical and current reports and full VAT reports. It is also possible to have multiple admins on the account.

Driver-focused ease

There are benefits for the drivers too. Authorised drivers pay for their parking in just 15 seconds using the PayByPhone app – that’s a 75% faster transaction time than with other payment methods. Drivers no longer need to pay out of pocket and keep track of receipts. This eliminates the headache for the driver, as well as the fleet admin of time-consuming monthly expense reports. Drivers can be alerted before their parking session is due to expire, avoiding those costly parking fines.

To find out more and to sign up your fleet visit

Fleet Summit: Registration closing – Secure your place today!

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

This winter’s Fleet Summit is just weeks away, taking place on November 8th & 9th at Whittlebury Park in Northamptonshire – we are closing delegate registration soon, so act now to secure your place.

Click here to accept your free invite

Your attendance is entirely free and includes a personalised itinerary that allows you to connect with fleet suppliers that match your business needs – Saving you time by organising everything for you ahead the event.

Your pass includes; 

– Your own bespoke itinerary, designed to connect you and suppliers through short 1-2-1 meetings
– Access to a series of industry seminar sessions – view current speaker line-up here
– Overnight accommodation
– Breakfast, lunch and refreshments throughout
– An invite to our exclusive networking dinner with entertainment.

Plus, did you know that we offer bespoke attendance options? This means that we can build you a schedule to suit your needs, even if you only have a certain time of the day free

LIVE attendance – includes full hospitality, accommodation & seminars at Whittlebury Park, Northamptonshire.

VIRTUAL attendance – via our portal & Zoom

Click here to accept your free invite


Question marks over LNG-powered truck sustainability claims

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Trucks powered by liquified natural gas (LNG) are no better for the climate than conventional diesel trucks and pollute the air far more than manufacturers claim, new independent tests have indicated.

Transport & Environment (T&E), which commissioned the on-road tests, says only zero-emissions trucks like battery electric vehicles should be supported by lawmakers. It has called for gas fuelling stations to be kicked out of EU fuel infrastructure targets and an end to generous government subsidies for LNG trucks in all EU countries.

Iveco’s S-Way LNG truck emits 13.4% more greenhouse gases than its Stralis diesel truck over a 20-year timeframe, the analysis shows. As methane has a far greater warming impact than CO2 in the 20 years after its release, the recent IPCC report said rapidly reducing it is crucial to avoiding catastrophic temperature rises.

The gas truck’s emissions savings at the tailpipe are negligible, according to the Technical University of Graz, which tested for exhaust CO2, methane and nitrous oxide. T&E analysed methane venting and upstream greenhouse gas emissions. Over a 100-year timeframe, when methane is much less potent, the LNG truck emits just 7.5% less than the diesel.

Fedor Unterlohner, freight manager at T&E, said: “Gas trucks are a dead-end for cutting emissions and will even exacerbate the climate crisis today. Only emissions-free vehicles are capable of decarbonising trucking. It’s time for gas fuelling stations to be dropped from the EU’s infrastructure targets and for governments to stop incentivising the purchase of LNG trucks.”

T&E analysis also found that powering Europe’s trucks with renewable gas is not an option. Demand for biomethane by trucks in the six biggest European countries would far outstrip the amount available, even with generous subsidies.[1]

The LNG truck is also far worse for cancer-causing particle emissions in cities and rural driving. In tests it emitted 37 times more ultrafine particles (PN) – which penetrate deep into the body and are linked with brain tumours – than the diesel. And while the gas truck performed better than the diesel for NOx emissions, it did not deliver the 90% savings that the truckmaker claims.

Fedor Unterlohner said: “LNG trucks are held up as saviours of air quality, but tests show they pollute far more than manufacturers claim. They are also a lot worse than diesel for the smallest and most harmful particles, including in city driving, where they are used for deliveries. Ultimately, gas trucks are just another fossil fuel technology that can never clean up freight.”

T&E called on governments and MEPs to reject an EU proposal for countries to continue installing LNG fuel stations under the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure law. EU member states, such as Germany and Italy, should also end their fleet renewal and purchase incentives for LNG trucks. Other subsidies, such as the lower fuel duty for fossil gas in transport throughout Europe, should also stop. Next year, T&E said, the EU should set the date by when all new trucks must be zero emissions when it reviews the truck CO2 law.

Infrastructure crucial to future of hydrogen-powered panel van fleets

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The rate of growth of the hydrogen refuelling infrastructure is likely to dictate which power option many fleets choose for panel vans over the next few years, says FleetCheck.

The fleet software specialist points out that, for some fleets, the EV panel vans now on sale require considerable operational compromise, which hydrogen could potentially solve.

Peter Golding, managing director at FleetCheck, said: “For fleets that carry low-medium weights in urban environments over short-medium distances, an electric panel van is a good solution, and there are a wide range of options becoming available on the market.

“However, if you currently move more than a tonne payload 200-300 miles in a day, up and down motorways, they are much less practical. In winter, completing that kind of working day could require not just an overnight charge but a couple of additional charges.

“That is why hydrogen is being talked about more and more by operators, and was a major source of conversation at the recent CV Show, with the hydrogen Vivaro on the Vauxhall stand due for arrival in 2023 a particular source of speculation. Because it can be refuelled with the speed and ease of a diesel vehicle, while providing similar range, it potentially solves those specific operational problems to which EVs are arguably not well suited.”

Golding added that there were two barriers to hydrogen adoption for panel van operators – cost and the current absence of hydrogen fuelling stations across most areas of the country.

“Something like the Vivaro will have to be manufactured in quite large numbers to make its purchase price and running costs viable. That could happen but will only occur if there is a usefully large refuelling infrastructure in place and there just isn’t at present.

“Of course, we will need widespread growth of hydrogen stations within a number of years because hydrogen will almost certainly be the motive power for bus and truck decarbonisation by 2040, but shorter-term provision is much more uncertain. Even the hydrogen buses now in operation are being depot-fuelled, I understand.

“In a very real sense, whether fleets ultimately end up using hydrogen or battery electric power for medium panels vans will very much be dictated by the speed of growth of the hydrogen infrastructure. There is little question that hydrogen itself is a better operational solution but only if you can actually get hold of fuel with relative ease.”

A further question, Golding added, would be whether van manufacturers would be able to call on sufficient resources to develop electric and hydrogen drive trains side-by-side.

“The switch to electrification is already creating a demand for massive investment in new technology for manufacturers. Whether they have an appetite to do the same for hydrogen in parallel must be very much open to question, despite its potential advantages.”

How much would it cost to drive the British coastline in an electric van?

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

If you’ve seen the news recently, you may have seen that a man called Nick Butter has successfully completed a challenge like no other: running the length of Britain’s coastline.

That’s right, Nick completed this epic, extraordinary journey after 128 days on Sunday 22nd August 2021. In doing so, the ultramarathon man clocked a whopping 5,255 miles, covered more than 12,000,000 steps, spent more than 1,400 hours running, and burnt out 14 pairs of trainers – a rather impressive feat to say the least!

That got us thinking. The transport industry is up against it when it comes to emissions, and with Boris Johnson having announced his decision to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, everyone is having to start looking at more environmentally friendly alternatives – for example, the humble electric vehicle.

So, inspired by this challenge, van leasing company Van Ninja have delved into how long Nick Butter’s amazing record would take if you were to do it an electric van, rather than on foot like he managed to do.

The route

If you were to follow the exact same route as Nick, you’d begin your rather exquisite adventure on the coast of Cornwall at the world-renowned Eden Project, before navigating your way up the coast towards Hampshire, and on towards Kent.

Now starts the extensive journey north, as you travel up the East coast, passing through the likes of Norfolk, Yorkshire, and Northumberland, before crossing the border into Scotland and weaving your way up towards the capital. Then, you get onto the now-famous North Coast 500 (the UK’s best road trip).

Then begins the long descent south, back down towards Dunbarton, Dumfries, Cumbria, Cheshire, and through into Wales. After you navigate your way through the stunning Welsh countryside, you prepare to complete the penultimate stage of your journey, departing Monmouthshire and ticking off Gloucester, Somerset, Devon, and then of course, you’re back in Cornwall.

The time

According to Volkswagen, the e-Transporter’s battery can be charged from empty to full in five hours 30 minutes, offering a range of 82 miles.

With this in mind, during the course of the 5,255-mile expedition, you’ll need to stop on 65 occasions. This is based on access to a 7kWh vehicle charging point, which is the standard device in homes around the country and often available at the likes of hotels, pubs, and other hospitality venues.

So, the number you’ve all been waiting for – in order to do a full swoop of Britain’s coastline in an electric van, it would take you 357.5 hours in charging times and 51 hours of driving (if we were able to travel at an average speed of 50mph). If you incorporate the government and RAC suggestions of taking a break for 15 minutes following on from two hours of driving, this will add an additional six and a half hours onto your total journey time.

So, there you have it – to drive the entirety of the British coastline in an electric van, you’d need to set aside 17 and a half days!

But, what about the cost? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that despite taking the same amount of time as a cruise around the Mediterranean, it’ll only set you back 2-3p per mile – meaning you could do this trip for between £50 and £75 in comparison to £745 in a diesel alternative.

So, now we’ve crunched the numbers, all that’s left is for you to do is plan your journey and hit the road – and identify where the charging points are in the Highlands!

Do you specialise in Duty of Care? We want to hear from you!

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Each month on Fleet Management Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the fleet market – and in October we’ll be focussing on Duty of Care solutions.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help fleet buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Duty of Care solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Chris Cannon on 01992 374096 /

Here’s our features list in full:

Oct – Duty of Care
Nov – Grey Fleet
Dec – Service, Maintenance & Repair

ACEA highlights lack of EV charging infrastructure across EU

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

There is a serious lack of electric charging points along the road networks in most EU member states, according to new data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

The findings show that 10 countries do not even have one charger for every 100 kilometre of key roads. All of these countries also have an electric car market share of less than 3% (except Hungary). 18 EU member states have under 5 charging points per 100km of road, with just four possessing more than 10 chargers for each 100km of streets.

As part of its Fit for 55 climate package published in July, the European Commission proposed that by 2030 CO2 emissions from new cars should be 55% less than 2021 levels – up from the 37.5% target for 2030 set only three years ago. European automakers will have to bring millions of electrically-chargeable cars to the market over the next years to meet this challenging new target.

“Consumers will not be able to make the switch to zero-emission vehicles if there are not enough charging and refuelling stations along the roads where they drive,” said ACEA Director General, Eric-Mark Huitema. “For instance, if citizens of Greece, Lithuania, Poland and Romania still have to travel 200km or more to find a charger, we cannot expect them to be willing to buy an electric car.

“Massive progress on infrastructure deployment will have to be made across the EU in a very short timeframe. The advances made in a few Western European countries are encouraging, but should not distract us from the dire state of the charging network in other EU countries.”

Indeed, the contrast between the Netherlands – the country with the most chargers (47.5 for each 100km of road) – and a vast country like Poland (eight times bigger, but only one charging point for every 250km) is striking.

Huitema added: “Unfortunately, the proposal for an Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Regulation – also a component of the Fit for 55 package – is out of sync with the Commission’s ambitions for the CO2 targets. While we appreciate the introduction of much-needed binding targets for charging and refuelling stations in each member state, they will need to be strengthened significantly if we want to meet our climate goals.”

ACEA is therefore calling on the European Parliament and the Council to grasp this opportunity to put the right conditions for e-mobility in place during the upcoming negotiations on Fit for 55.