Stuart O'Brien, Author at Fleet Summit
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Stuart O'Brien

The electric vehicle revolution: How our homes are driving the green transition

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By Ella Pumford (pictured), Content Manager at St. Modwen Homes

Electric vehicles are driving the UK’s green transition, helping the nation on its journey towards sustainability and net zero emissions by 2050. To achieve this goal, the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned after 2030, meaning that the future roads are guaranteed to look more electric.

But with the increase of electric vehicles comes the issue of charging. Of course, it makes sense that we should all be able to charge our cars at home. Nipping to the petrol station during the rush hour commute will be no more, as recharging will be done on our doorsteps. But do you have an electric vehicle charger at your home yet? The answer is most likely no. After all, we’ve not had much use for them up until now.

At some point, we’ll all need to upgrade our homes to be compatible with new electric cars. But with a rapid increase in the use of electric vehicles, how can our homes sustain the electricity demand? It’s clear that our homes will become central to the green revolution, even on the roads.

Here, we explore how homes will navigate the electric vehicle revolution and help our national environmental ambitions.

What’s the charge?

There are over 35,000 charge points across 13,000 locations in the UK. This means that there are now more public places to charge than there are petrol stations. However, the time it takes to charge can vary between 30 minutes and 12 hours, depending on the size of the car battery and the efficiency of the charging point.

It’s clear that the solution for electric vehicle charging lies at home. Leaving your car on charge overnight while it sits parked on the driveway or in the garage means that you’ll never fall on an empty tank again. But how much will your electric car contribute to your home electricity expenses? The answer: less than your petrol or diesel costs and with the added benefit of being more environmentally friendly.

In fact, on average, electric cars cost 4p per mile while petrol cars cost 9p per mile to run. This means that petrol cars cost over twice as much to run in comparison to electric cars. So, shifting your petrol costs to your home energy costs may boost your home bills, but you’ll be saving in the long run.

Even better, charging your car from your home has additional environmental benefits. The ban on new non-electrified cars aligns itself with the target to power all UK homes with wind by 2030. So, we can rest happy knowing that our cars will be charged with renewable energy at home.

Steering homes towards sustainability

It’s not only our roads that are becoming more sustainable. Our homes are quickly becoming leaders in the green transition, finding more sustainable ways to improve energy efficiency, use more renewable electricity, and lowering our home expenses.

Charging your electric car could instantly become an act of environmental proactivity when you install solar PV panels on your roof. In fact, PV panels are quickly becoming a popular option for homeowners to lower their home energy costs and reduce their environmental impact. Estimates suggest that you could save around £270 a year on your energy bill when using a PV system.

The average UK driver had a mileage of 7,090 miles in 2019. If your electric car costs 4p per mile, this means your annual electricity cost would be £283.60. This is close to the annual savings on your energy from a PV system. Of course, to charge your electric car at your existing property, you will need to install an electric vehicle charging port. The average cost of which is £450 after financial assistance from the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme. Even then, the long-term savings are worth the investment. So how will our homes of the future be designed for the future of electric vehicles?

Ready for the future

It’s expected that 80 per cent of electric vehicle charging will take place at home. As such, the government has outlined proposals to change building regulations in England to require all new-build homes to be fitted with an electric car charging point.

However, some housebuilders already offer the opportunity to install electric vehicle charging ports on your new home. St. Modwen Homes believes that electric vehicle charging points don’t just offer convenience to homeowners, but helps their customers be more environmentally friendly. Ella Pumford from St. Modwen Homes says: “It’s never been easier to make your new home eco-friendly, and now we can help people choose more sustainable options in their life. Installing an electric vehicle charging point on your home can help you save money, reduce your environmental impact, and ensure that your home is prepared for the future.

“We offer a variety of eco-friendly home upgrades for customers, meaning that alongside electric vehicles, the future of our homes is truly sustainable. The use of PV panels, air-source heat pumps, and wastewater heat recovery units can further help us to lower our costs and boost sustainable lifestyles. The construction of new-build homes, whether they’re houses in Eastwood or new-builds in Wantage, should recognise the needs of the future and adapt to meet them.”

Future roads belong to electric vehicles, but our homes will spearhead the route through the green transition, making their use viable for the next generation of homeowners. As we continue our sustainable journeys, the purpose of our homes and vehicles will change. From simple transport and accommodation, new cars and new homes are allowing us to lead sustainable lifestyles in ways which have previously been impossible.

Can electric vans keep up with the pressuring demands of online shopping?

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The courier sector is currently experiencing two major consumer demands – an ever-increasing expectation for rapid delivery times, and a growing concern for greener methods. Balancing these two requirements has been difficult, and the recent pandemic has only amplified the pressure, with more parcels and packages heading out onto the roads than ever before.

Couriers are ramping up their fleet numbers with van leasing and sending out more drivers to meet this surging demand.

In terms of bringing couriers onto a greener road, electric vehicles are often touted as the way forward. But are electric fleets ready to keep up with current demands?

The demand for doorstep deliveries

Even before the pandemic, shipping levels were increasing year on year. According to the Pitney Bowes 2019 Parcel Shipping Index, global parcel shipping surpassed a staggering 100 billion in volume for the first time that year. The same report predicted that parcel volumes would double by 2026 to reach 220–262 billion – and that was before the pandemic accelerated customer demand for home deliveries across the board.

With so many more parcels being posted and many UK shoppers expecting orders placed before 4:43pm to be delivered the next day, couriers are having to work harder than ever before. It’s vital that their vehicles can keep up. So, how do the fleets of the biggest UK couriers shape up in the modern day?

A slow transformation

The top five most popular UK couriers are:

  1. Royal Mail (52.7%)
  2. Hermes (16.1%)
  3. DPD Group (14.2%)
  4. Parcelforce (4.7%)
  5. DHL (4.1%)

The Royal Mail operates 41,000 delivery and collection vans, alongside an additional 10,000 vehicles such as lorries and heavy goods vehicles. Currently, the firm’s massive fleet contains just 300 electric vehicles, though it plans to add another 3,000. This would take the percentage of its fleet running on electricity from just 0.58% to 6.47%.

DPD shows a slightly stronger input, with a recent order of 750 more electric vehicles bringing its total to 1,700 within its fleet of over 10,000 vehicles. This would increase its percentage of electric vehicles from around 9.5% to roughly 17%.

It’s clear that the bigger couriers have some faith in electric vehicles as a means to bring their processes in line with a green world, but what is holding them back from making a bigger conversion to an all-electric fleet?

Range has improved – so what’s the problem?

Often, when the issue of electric vehicles is raised, the discussion turns to their range. It has been something of a concern for many years, but in truth, electric vehicles have seen substantial improvements to their range. In fact, the average electric range for Auto Express’ best electric vans in 2021 clocks in at 121.64 miles.

If we compare that to the Department for Transport’s latest figures – that light commercial vehicles such as delivery vans travel 12,811 miles per year on average – across 261 working days in a year, that would mean the average light commercial vehicle driver travelled 49 miles on average per day. For a standard delivery driver, an EV would certainly stand up to the challenge.

But for delivery drivers on long-haul routes up and down the country, 100 miles or so before needing a top-up charge just isn’t feasible. While topping up with petrol takes a few minutes, even rapid-charge options tend to sit at around 45 minutes for 80% capacity. A fully charged battery, on the other hand, can need five and a half hours or more.

With the courier sector experiencing such a surge in parcels going through the system, drivers clocking off their shift and handing the keys over to the next shift for back-to-back deliveries will not have time to plug the vehicle in for a five-and-a-half-hour recharge. Compared to a quick stop at the petrol station, electric vehicles still have a challenge to overcome if they are to keep up with the pressures of online shopping deliveries – refuel time.

There’s no doubt that electric vehicles will become a dominant presence on roads in the coming years. However, until the last few hurdles are overcome, we may not see a fully electric courier service that can flourish under the heavy pressure of online shopping demands.

Royal Mail engages all-electric company car schemes

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Royal Mail has announced a new initiative to ensure all its company cars will be electric by 2030, as the company builds on its ambitions to become a net zero carbon emission business with a 100% alternative fuel fleet.

Under the plans, the Royal Mail will rework all of its current car schemes to accelerate the switch to electric vehicles. This includes widening the access to electric company cars for those colleagues who need a car to do their job. By 2025, only electric cars will be available to order across all company car schemes.

The drive towards electrification will also extend to postmen and women who seek to buy their vehicles through the company’s popular salary sacrifice scheme MyDrive, with the associated tax benefits that come with running an electric company car. Royal Mail plans to offer a range of affordable entry level electric vehicles.

To reinforce the commitment to change, the company says it will only pay business mileage reimbursement at an appropriate electric vehicle rate for diesel, petrol and hybrid private cars and company cars from 2025.

Royal Mail’s says its company car fleet is already changing and has undergone a significant move to electric vehicles since the April 2020 tax changes. Around half of company car orders are now for electric vehicles. It says this new initiative is aimed at accelerating this trend by encouraging the take up of more electric vehicles in a push to reduce the company’s emissions still further. 

Jenny Hall, Director of Corporate Affairs, Royal Mail said: “We’ve already revealed our ambition to turn our fleet to alternate fuel vehicles in order to do the right thing by the communities we serve. It makes sense for us to focus on company cars too, and we hope that this new scheme will benefit our colleagues while reducing overall Company emissions further.”

With the UK’s largest “Feet on the Street” network of over 85,000 postmen and women, Royal Mail claims to already have the lowest reported CO2e emissions per parcel amongst major UK delivery companies. It says the expansion of alternative fuel vehicles demonstrates the Company’s commitment to reducing emissions associated with its operations, and to delivering a cleaner future.

In May, the Company announced the launch of 29 low emission gas powered trucks, fuelled by Bio-Compressed Natural Gas (Bio-CNG). The 40 tonne Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) are similar in size and look to a conventional Royal Mail truck but are significantly quieter. They also emit roughly 84 per cent less CO2e than a typical diesel-fuelled vehicle of this size.

Also in May, Royal Mail announced the launch of its first ever Delivery Office to feature an all-electric fleet of collection and delivery vehicles. The Bristol East Central Delivery Office, located in the City’s Easton area, has had its 23 diesel delivery and collection vans replaced by fully electric equivalents – comprising the Office’s entire collection and delivery fleet. Six electric charging posts and 12 charging points have also been installed on the site as part of the transformation.

Bristol was selected due to the City’s plans for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ), which will require certain vehicles to pay a daily charge to enter its centre. At present, other Delivery Offices across the UK are being considered for similar fleet makeovers in coming months – particularly those in places with existing CAZs, or that have plans to introduce them.

RAC forecasts ‘unprecedented summer’ on the UK roads as staycation fever hits

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This summer will see ‘unprecedented’ levels of traffic on UK roads due to drivers planning in excess of an estimated 29m staycations – 16m of these in the school holidays alone – according to a study of 2,500 drivers conducted by RAC Breakdown.

The number of drivers making firm staycation bookings has surged 20% since April, with the RAC figures suggesting the West Country – Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset – will receive the largest numbers of holidaymakers (30%), followed by Scotland (14%), Yorkshire (8%), the Lake District (6%) and East Anglia (6%).

And while many drivers have already decided which week they’ll be going away, a sizeable fifth (18%) are yet to commit to a week. This suggests some people are hoping to grab a last-minute booking or are perhaps holding out to see what the Great British weather has in store before committing.

With the school summer holidays just around the corner and most families already having made their plans for a break, the prospect of lengthy bumper-to-bumper queues on major routes – and a spike in breakdowns – has now shot up. The RAC is therefore urging drivers to make sure their cars – and anything they might be towing – are ‘road ready’ or risk a breakdown during what could turn out to be one of the busiest summers on the roads in years.

Quickly checking a car’s tyres, oil, coolant and even fuel levels before setting off makes the difference between a smooth journey and one blighted by a breakdown. Drivers should also check traffic conditions before setting out and avoid travelling on the busiest roads during the busiest periods.

Drivers were also asked how far from home they’ll be holidaying in the UK, and results suggest many of us will be travelling much further than usual. The majority (57%) say they’ll be more than 150 miles from home, with 17% of these more than 300 miles from home. But interestingly a third of drivers (33%) who had a staycation in 2020 say they’ll be driving greater distances in the UK this year, perhaps to explore new corners of the country.

Uncertainty around foreign travel could also have the effect of boosting the volumes of traffic on the UK’s roads even further, particularly as Office of National Statistics’ data shows as many as 9.4m overseas trips were made in August 2019. Just 7% of drivers expect to take a summer holiday elsewhere in Europe, down from 10% in April. And of those drivers who are still holding on for a foreign trip this summer, 34% say they will end up holidaying in the UK instead if pandemic restrictions affect their plans.

While the car on its own is the most popular means of going on holiday this year, accounting for 90% of trips that will be made by personal transport, 5% will involve towing a caravan or trailer, and a further 5% will be in a motorhome. When it comes to the types of accommodation drivers will be staying in, self-catering is the most popular (46% of drivers), followed by hotels and B&Bs (22%) and camping or touring sites (17%).

Fuel your 2022 fleet strategies at the Fleet Summit

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The Fleet Summit will return on November 8th & 9th, taking place at Whittlebury Park (Golf & Spa Hotel) in Northamptonshire – make sure you register today!

We understand that your time is precious and extremely limited, which is why we want to ensure that you don’t miss out on this entirely free pass that 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, we have many attendance options to suit your schedule (including virtual attendance).

Click here to accept your free invite

Do you specialise in LPG/Alternative Fuel & Fuel Management? We want to hear from you!

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Each month on Fleet Management Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the fleet market – and in August we’ll be focussing on LPG/Alternative Fuel & Fuel Management 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 LPG/Alternative Fuel & Fuel Management 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 / c.cannon@forumevents.co.uk.

Here’s our features list in full:

Aug – LPG/Alternative Fuel & Fuel Management
Sep – EV Infrastructure
Oct – Duty of Care
Nov – Grey Fleet
Dec – Service, Maintenance & Repair

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: RingGo Corporate parking app

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RingGo is the UK’s no.1 parking app, with over 500 locations across 140 local authorities. We’re proud to offer the widest availability of TouchFree cashless parking across the whole of the UK. More than 11,000 businesses use RingGo Corporate to take the hassle out of parking for employees and manage their fleet, parking finances and admin all in one place.

Save time with intuitive tools to take the pain out of parking admin

  • Get one monthly HMRC-ready invoice to make reclaiming VAT easier.
  • No need to chase receipts. 
  • Add or remove employees and vehicles in your account in seconds.

Save money with an app that makes parking simpler for everyone

  • Reduce the risk of PCNs – handy SMS reminders alert employees when time is nearly up, so they can extend their parking session easily in the app.
  • Spot trends and opportunities to save money with our easy-to-use insight and reporting tools.

Boost productivity and free up employees to do more of what they do best

  • Help employees to park smart. With the app, they can find a space or charging point, get directions to it, pay for and extend their parking in just a few taps.
  • Increase efficiency, with less resource required to chase receipts, manage expenses or take care of parking fine admin.
  • Get a complete view of the parking activity for your whole business in your personalised company dashboard.


We’re more than just parking. We’re parking that works for your business.

https://corporate.myringgo.co.uk/ 

SAVE THE DATE: Fleet Summit – Winter 2021

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You can now register for this winter’s Fleet Summit, which takes place on the November 8th & 9th at Whittlebury Park (Golf & Spa Hotel) in Northamptonshire.

We understand that your time is precious and extremely limited, which is why we want to ensure that you don’t miss out on this entirely free pass that 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, we have many attendance options to suit your schedule (including virtual attendance).

Click here to accept your free invite

Fleet Management Briefing and Webfleet Solutions survey – Sustainability in focus

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With the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans being banned from 2030, and clean air zones being rolled out, businesses must plan for a sustainable future. Your valuable insights will help us determine the focus on fleet sustainability for operators ahead of this key date.

Please don’t forget to provide us with your contact details so we can send you the key findings from this survey later this summer.

There are a total of 12 questions – Thank you for taking part in our survey on fleet sustainability!

Click Here To Take Survey

Ford and Hermes partner on autonomous delivery vehicles

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Ford has announced a new Self-Driving Vehicle Research Programme designed to help businesses in Europe understand how autonomous vehicles can benefit their operations.

Hermes is the first business to partner with Ford on the programme. Using a customised Ford commercial vehicle, the research aims to better understand how other road users would interact with an apparently driverless delivery van.

The specially adapted Ford Transit features sensors that mimic the look of an actual self-driving vehicle plus a “Human Car Seat” in control of the vehicle – this enables an experienced, hidden driver to drive while giving the impression to others around that there is no one at the wheel.

“As we plan to bring autonomous vehicles to the roads, it is important that we focus not only on enabling the technology, but on enabling our customers’ businesses,” said Richard Balch, director, Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility, Ford of Europe. “Clearly, there is no better way to identify how they may need to adapt than to experience those processes in real life.”

Ford has for six years been Europe’s market leader in commercial vehicles. 1 By harnessing this experience with expertise from delivery firms, the company intends to identify new opportunities and models for autonomous vehicle operations – in particular understanding how existing processes and human interactions can work alongside automated vehicles. Commercial vehicles’ planned operations and many human interactions are an ideal test case.

A commercial vehicle driver’s responsibilities sometimes extend beyond simply driving from one destination to another. In a delivery or logistics operation, for example, the driver may also be tasked with sorting and loading goods, manually handing packages over to recipients – or reloading them onto the van if delivery is not possible.

However, in this research, the driver will play an entirely passive role, simply driving the vehicle. Pedestrian couriers who support the delivery van are equipped with a smartphone app that lets them hail the vehicle and remotely unlock the load door after it is safely parked at the roadside. Once inside, voice prompts and digital screens direct the courier  to their locker, containing the parcels to be delivered.

Understanding and designing how humans will interact with the vehicle will ensure that business processes are able to continue safely without a driver present.

The two-week research project with Hermes builds on the success of Ford’s “last mile delivery” trials in London, in which a team of pedestrian couriers collects parcels from a delivery van and fulfils the last leg of the delivery by foot resulting in fast, sustainable and efficient deliveries in cities.

The research vehicles will enable Hermes and other businesses to begin designing how their teams could work alongside driverless vehicles. For Hermes, this user design research has included developing an app that enables the pedestrian couriers to access the van to collect parcels, once again, this is a role that the human driver would normally fulfil.

“We’re excited to collaborate with Ford on this proof of concept trial, which is all about understanding the potential for autonomous vehicles and if they have a role in delivery in the longer-term future,” said Lynsey Aston, head of product, Innovation and Onboarding. “We’re constantly innovating to incubate and then explore concepts like this, and we look forward to the initial findings, which will no doubt be useful on an industry-wide level.”

Ford researchers are already investigating how self-driving vehicles will integrate seamlessly into our daily lives, including developing a light-based visual language to convey to other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists what autonomous vehicles intend to do next.

Ford has been testing self-driving technology in major cities across the U.S. and plans to invest around $7 billion in autonomous vehicles during 10 years through to 2025 – $5 billion of that from 2021 forward – as part of its Ford Mobility initiatives.

In collaboration with Ford’s self-driving technology partner, Argo AI, autonomous test vehicles operate daily in six U.S. cities. Last year, Argo AI’s comprehensive self-driving system enabled address-to-address autonomous deliveries of fresh produce and school supplies through a charitable goods pilot in Miami, Florida, in the United States.