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Stuart O'Brien

Do you specialise in Fleet Telematics & Tracking? 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 June we’ll be focussing on Telematics/Tracking 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 Telematics/Tracking 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:

Jun – Telematics/Tracking
Jul – Contract Hire & Leasing
Aug – LPG/Alternative Fuel & Fuel Management
Sep – EV Infrastructure
Oct – Duty of Care
Nov – Grey Fleet
Dec – Service, Maintenance & Repair

BENF: EVs will be cheaper than petrol cars in all segments by 2027

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Electric cars and vans will be cheaper to make than fossil-fuel vehicles in every light vehicle segment across Europe from 2027 at the latest, according to a new BloombergNEF study commissioned by Transport & Environment (T&E).

The research found that battery electric vehicles could reach 100% of new sales across the EU by 2035, if lawmakers introduce measures like tighter vehicle CO2 targets and strong support for charging infrastructure.

T&E called on the EU to tighten emissions targets in the 2020s and set 2035 as the end date for selling new polluting vehicles.

Electric sedans (C and D segments) and SUVs will be as cheap to produce as petrol vehicles from 2026, while small cars (B segment) will follow in 2027, BNEF projects. It finds that falling battery costs [1], new vehicle architectures, and dedicated production lines for electric vehicles will make them cheaper to buy, on average, even before subsidies.

But the early build-up of EV production and sales will be crucial to drive down costs and generate consumer buy-in for further adoption in the future, BNEF found. Only stricter CO2 targets for vehicle-makers in the 2020s, including a new 2027 target, can ensure that, T&E said.

Julia Poliscanova, senior director for vehicles and emobility at T&E, said: “EVs will be a reality for all new buyers within six years. They will be cheaper than combustion engines for everyone, from the man with a van in Berlin to the family living in the Romanian countryside. Electric vehicles are not only better for the climate and Europe’s industrial leadership, but for the economy too.”

Light electric vans will be cheaper than diesel vans from 2025, and heavy electric vans from 2026, BNEF also finds. But today, e-vans account for just 2% of sales because of weak emissions standards that fail to stimulate manufacturers to invest in their supply. T&E said EU lawmakers will need to set van-makers challenging CO2 targets, alongside dedicated e-van sales quotas, to increase investment and the number of electric models on the market.

Battery electric cars and vans could reach 100% of new sales by 2035, even in southern and eastern Europe, if lawmakers increase vehicle CO2 targets and ramp up other policies to stimulate the market such as a faster roll-out of charging points. If left to the market without strong additional policies, battery electric cars will reach only an 85% market share, and e-vans just 83%, in the EU by 2035 – missing Europe’s goal to decarbonise by 2050.

Poliscanova added: “With the right policies, battery electric cars and vans can reach 100% of sales by 2035 in western, southern and even eastern Europe. The EU can set an end date in 2035 in the certainty that the market is ready. New polluting vehicles shouldn’t be sold for any longer than necessary.”

The EU Commission should set an end date for fossil-fuel car sales in June, when it will propose tightening the bloc’s car CO2 targets, T&E said. Last month, 27 major European companies called on EU lawmakers to set 2035 as the end date for selling new combustion engine cars and vans.

recent poll showed 63% of urban residents in Europe support a ban after 2030. At least seven carmakers and 10 European countries have announced plans to phase out conventional cars. But, in the absence of an EU commitment, these deadlines remain either voluntary or uncertain as to their enforceability.

Learn how to make the switch to EVs at the Fleet Summit

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You can enjoy a series of live seminar sessions at the Fleet Summit, including a presentation on the future of EVs from Peter Eldridge, Director at The Association of Fleet Professionals.

Peter will discuss the current upsurge in interest in EVs, how to evaluate your fleet’s potential to electrify, analysing the cost and environmental benefits of switching to EVs and managing the real world transition of EV operations in a business-as-usual environment.

The Fleet Summit is a hybrid event that also allows you to build essential business connections with innovative fleet product and service providers, via a series of pre-scheduled 1-2-1 meetings.

We create you a bespoke itinerary that includes the meetings, networking & your industry seminars – so that you can gain the most out of your time at the event.

7th & 8th July- Whittlebury Park, Northamptonshire.

As a fleet professional your attendance is entirely free and includes complimentary overnight accommodation and all meals / refreshments throughout.

Secure your free place here via our online booking form, or if you have any questions then you can email us here directly.

UK firms ‘to invest £15.8bn’ in EVs this year

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UK firms spent £10.5bn on electric vehicles (EVs) and on-site charging points during the year to March 2021, and are now planning £15.8bn of investment in the same area over the next 12 months – a 50% increase year-on-year.

That’s according to research from Centrica Business Solutions, which says two fifths (40%) of those questioned said they had increased the total number of EVs within their fleet between April 2020 and March 2021.

Of these businesses, six in ten (58%) cited the need to meet corporate sustainability targets as the biggest driving factor behind their increased adoption of EV, followed by reducing operational disruption caused by low and zero-emission zones (51%) and the attraction of the lower maintenance and whole-life costs offered by EVs (37%).

Four in ten (43%) businesses hadn’t increased EV numbers at all and 10% decreased their EV fleet size. Range anxiety was reported as the chief concern for a third (34%) of these firms, followed by the need to prioritise business investment elsewhere during the height of the coronavirus crisis (32%).

Despite this, two-thirds (67%) of all companies polled claimed they are well-prepared to operate a fully electric fleet by 2030, when the Government’s ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles comes into effect.

46% of businesses polled plan to install charging points on their premises to facilitate the uptake of EVs across the next twelve months, although more than a third (37%) have already installed this infrastructure. The research also revealed that three in ten (30%) firms have already invested in on-site technology capable of generating the energy to charge their fleet of EVs, such as solar panels, while almost half (48%) plan to do this in the future. 

Greg McKenna, managing director of Centrica Business Solutions, said: “Despite the disruption of the past year, it’s encouraging to see investment in EVs remain a key priority for many businesses. The fact that firms are planning to increase their spending so dramatically over the next 12 months is proof that more businesses are recognising the advantages of adopting low-emission vehicles, especially as they recover from coronavirus and seek to create sustainable growth.

“Now that 2030 is set in stone as the end of new petrol & diesel sales we need to ensure three things to help get us there, sufficient electric vehicles to meet demand, reliable charging infrastructure that’s available to all and a flexible energy system that can deliver green power where it’s needed.”

Rachel Maclean, Transport Minister, said: “As we accelerate towards our net-zero future, I’m delighted to see UK firms at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution.

“With British businesses set to increase their investment in electric vehicles by 50%, the message is clear – the future is electric. With generous government grants and tax incentives which could save drivers over £2,000 a year, there has never been a better or more exciting time to make the switch.”

Sky, Volvo, Uber press for end to petrol and diesel car sales un EU by 2035

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EU lawmakers should set an end date for selling new combustion engine cars in Europe no later than 2035, 27 companies have said in a joint appeal.

The open call will continue to gather support for a phase-out ahead of the review of EU car and van CO2 standards in June. The companies, which include IKEA Retail, Sky, Uber, Vattenfall and Volvo Cars, represent a wide range of industries.

They say a fixed date will send a clear investment signal for car manufacturers, supply chains and infrastructure providers and will enable all businesses to decarbonise their vehicle fleets.

Cars and vans are responsible for 15% of all Europe’s CO2 emissions and are the single largest source (26%) of toxic nitrogen oxide emissions, which cause chronic diseases and the premature deaths of 54,000 Europeans every year. Oil costs the European economy over €200 billion a year in imports. A recent poll shows almost two-thirds of urban residents support banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in Europe after 2030.

Anders Kärrberg, head of global sustainability at Volvo Cars, said: “By planning to become a fully electric car company by 2030, Volvo Cars intends to set the pace in the transition to zero emission mobility within our industry. But clear governmental direction and support is also needed to accelerate this transition. In this respect, Volvo Cars is pleased to join this call for the European Commission to propose an end date on new sales of internal combustion engine vehicles within the EU by 2035. Additional measures are also needed to increase EU consumer demand for electrified vehicles, including the rapid development of a comprehensive charging infrastructure.”

Setting a CO2 target for vehicle manufacturers at 0 gram of CO2/km by 2035 would enshrine the phase-out of petrol and diesel cars – including hybrids – in law, the companies say. The Commission will propose new targets in June as part of its “Fit for 55” package of legislation, which is intended to put the EU on track to cut overall emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050.[2]

Anabel Diaz, regional general manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa – Uber, said: “Ambitious EU targets are critical for accelerating EV adoption. A phase-out by 2035 for all new vehicles sold in Europe will accelerate availability of affordable new and second-hand EVs, breaking down one of the key obstacles for high-km drivers – like those on the Uber platform – to make the EV switch which will have an outsized impact on climate. The EU phase-out target and cooperation of the entire EV ecosystem will allow for a faster transition towards more sustainable mobility which Uber supported through its own targets of becoming 50% electric by 2025 across seven cities and 100% by 2030 across Europe.”

Lawmakers should also use European, national and local measures – particularly the EU Alternative Fuels Infrastructure law – to ramp up deployment of electric vehicle charging points across the bloc, the companies say. They would also welcome support for vehicle makers and their supply chains to invest in new skills training for workers and regional transformation plans to help ensure no one is left behind in the transition to emissions-free transport. Changes to taxation are also needed to help ordinary consumers as well as corporate and urban mobility fleets switch to electric vehicles.

Julia Poliscanova, senior director for vehicles and emobility at Transport & Environment, said: “Electrification of cars and vans is inevitable for the climate, consumers and for Europe’s industrial strategy. Businesses now want clarity on the speed of the transition to plan and prepare. Only EU lawmakers can provide it by naming the date for the end of combustion engine cars and vans sales.”

RAC issues warning over catalytic converter thefts

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Criminals have been targeting cars parked during lockdown to fuel the illegal trade of precious metals, according to the RAC and insurer Ageas.

Ageas says it has seen a marked rise in theft of catalytic converters since the start of the first lockdown just over a year ago, with this type of crime now accounting for three-in-10 of all theft claims reported.

Before the lockdown catalytic converter theft only accounted for around one-in-five, the company’s data shows.

Most thefts have happened while cars have been parked at home, either on the driveway or the road, although in a very small number of cases thieves were brazen enough to steal them in supermarket car parks while the driver was shopping.

Quick backgrounder: Catalytic converters form part of a car’s exhaust system. They contain a honeycomb coated with precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium which help to reduce and filter harmful gases from the vehicles’ exhaust systems. 

But criminals steal catalytic converters so they can sell them on and make money from the precious metals inside them. 

When global values of these metals go up it usually leads to a spate of thefts. Prices of rhodium hit a record highs earlier this year, up more than 200 per cent since March 2020.

Robin Challand, Claims Director at Ageas, said: “While catalytic converters are just one component of a car, their theft can often result in a driver’s car being written off which is the last thing we want for our customers. We hope that by shining a spotlight on this type of crime, we can arm motorists with the information they need to protect their vehicles.”

RAC Insurance spokesman Simon Williams said: “Drivers are often oblivious of their vehicle’s catalytic converter being stolen. Our patrols are often called to attend cars that have suddenly become excessively noisy. On investigation it’s very often the case that the car’s catalytic converter has been stolen.

“We’d strongly recommend motorists get in the habit of taking extra precautions to guard against this type of crime. Generally-speaking, most car crime takes place at night, so it makes sense to park a vehicle in a well-lit and residential location, or ideally in a garage if available. When away from home, look for car parks that have security patrols and are covered by CCTV. It’s also a good idea to look for the ParkMark logo at car parks as this shows they have met certain security standards.

“But unfortunately, as Ageas’ data shows, even taking sensible precautions may not necessarily make you immune to this type of crime. For this reason, having a strong, comprehensive insurance policy is a vital in case the worst happens.”

5 Minutes With… SmartDrive’s Penny Brooks

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In the latest instalment of our fleet industry executive interview series, we spoke to Penny Brooks, Managing Director for EMEA at SmartDrive Systems, about the company, the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, the opportunities created by video safety technologies, the move towards remote fleet management and the importance of big data…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

SmartDrive Systems, (now part of Omnitracs), helps fleets reduce bad costs, by reducing fleet risk and collisions, whilst protecting and exonerating drivers when not-at-fault.  Our video-based, managed service safety programme performs the ‘heavy lifting’ for fleets, enabling them to implement a proactive, programmatic approach to reducing on-road risk.  

This is achieved primarily through identifying risky driving behaviour, such as distracted driving, speeding, close following, and many more, providing the fleet with the mechanism to work in a supportive and objective manner to coach drivers to safer performance. 

Many of our existing customers also integrate the programme into their driver incentive schemes, identifying and rewarding drivers for safe driving practices and improvements. 

What have been the biggest challenges the Fleet Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?

The last 12 months have been an extraordinary time! COVID has presented a massive challenge to the industry, both in terms of suppliers to the industry continuing to service and support existing clients, and in terms of new business growth.    

Ourselves, and many other fleet services companies like us, have had to find new ways to conduct our business and support our customers, which will likely have an ongoing impact for some time to come.  

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

The increasing digitalisation of fleet management operations to optimise efficiencies and reduce costs during this time, has led to a number of very interesting emerging opportunities in our space of video-safety. 

What is the biggest priority for the Fleet Services industry in 2021/2022?

Unsurprisingly, we’re seeing an increasing focus on remote fleet management solutions and services. COVID and other macroeconomic factors have meant that operational efficiency and minimising fleet risk are key to enable many fleets to remain competitive and protect their employees. 

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021/2022?

In line with above, developments in remote fleet services data capture and data analytics is a significant trend, through converged fleet management systems, particularly in areas such as telematics, in-cab video, and AI.  

We’re seeing a lot of movement from on-premise to SaaS solutions, which although not new, is accelerating more rapidly than ever before, in line with improved connectivity and the Internet of Things, (IoT). 

With all of this we will see a trend for deeper data security, with many fleet managers shifting focus to strategic management and upskilling in IT to adopt newer roles. 

Additionally, the increasing push toward electric and autonomous vehicles will be a key trend, with many companies rolling out electric vehicles from cars to commercials. With autonomous vehicles, one of the key trends will be finding ways of how to manage automated vehicles fleets with regard to on-road risk, as safety is a key concern.    

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

Remote fleet management systems that provide real-time visibility across operations. 

In 2023 we’ll all be talking about…?

Hopefully not another COVID lockdown! Rather where we are going, or have been, on our foreign holidays!  

On a more serious note, we’ll be talking more about ‘big data’, analytics and associated security than we are today. Fleet operators and other members of the fleet services sector will have greater insights into how to make use of this upsurge in data to understand every aspect of a fleet’s behaviour, to gain efficiencies, improve safety and protect the environment.  

Which person in, or associated with, the Fleet Services industry would you most like to meet?

HRH The Princess Royal, as Patron of Transaid, the international development organisation that works to transform lives through safe, available, and sustainable transport. I have great admiration for her and the hard work and focus she puts into furthering Transaid’s aims. 

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Fleet Services sector?

It’s continually changing and many faceted dimensions. I spent 15-years at a major truck and van OEM before joining SmartDrive and believed I had a thorough understanding of the sector. However, I soon realised that wasn’t the case and I continue to gain new insights daily that inform my experience and understanding of this exciting and dynamic industry.

You go to the bar at the Fleet Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

A perfectly chilled glass of white burgundy. 

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Witnessing the difference that our technology makes to our customers operations and knowing that I’m part of an organisation that is helping to save lives and reduce casualties on our roads.  

And what’s the most challenging?

Balancing daily operational tasks against the wider priorities of leading business growth. Like many people, there’s not enough hours in the day.  Keeping a focus on my ‘ruthless priorities’ is key.  

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.  

Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

Peaky Blinders at a push. Watched the first series, it was great. Watched the second series, not so great.  Started watching the third series…gave up after first episode. Even Cillian Murphy wasn’t enough to keep me watching!  

To find out more about SmartDrive’s managed video safety programme, email, visit their website, or give them a call on 01442 345180. 

Do you specialise in Fleet Management Software? 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 May we’ll be focussing on Fleet Management Software 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 Fleet Management Software 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:

May – Fleet Management Software
Jun – Telematics/Tracking
Jul – Contract Hire & Leasing
Aug – LPG/Alternative Fuel & Fuel Management
Sep – EV Infrastructure
Oct – Duty of Care
Nov – Grey Fleet
Dec – Service, Maintenance & Repair

Will you be attending the FLeet Summit this July?

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The Fleet Summit is a highly-focused industry event tailored for fleet professionals like you, taking place on the 7th & 8th July at Whittlebury Park – Make sure you register today!

The benefits of attending as one of our delegates includes:-

  • One-to-one access to budget-saving and innovative suppliers
  • Network with all attendees to build business relationships that can benefit you, your team and the future of your business. 
  • A series of insightful seminar sessions that advise on the current and future challenges within the industry

Your attendance is also entirely complimentary – Virtual attendance options are available, however our live event offers free overnight accommodation, including all meals and refreshments throughout

If this is of interest, you can confirm your free attendance here or we are happy to answer any questions you might have via email.

Tesco’s free retail EV charging network hits 500,000 charges

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The UK’s largest free retail electric car charging network has hit 500,000 charges – providing more than 10 million miles of complimentary carbon neutral motoring.

Tesco, in partnership with Volkswagen and Pod Point, is installing free charging points at 600 supermarkets around the UK as part of their commitment to improving electric car charging infrastructure.

The partnership has now provided its 500,000th free top-up – and during this period the company says 3 million kWh of free, carbon neutral electricity has been given out – enough power to drive an all-electric Volkswagen ID.4 SUV around 10.4 million miles.

Based on the average new petrol or diesel car sold in the UK, the scheme has reduced carbon emissions by approximately 2,120 tonnes – the same as more than 2,770 acres of forest will manage in a year.

The announcement was welcomed by Transport Secretary and EV owner Grant Shapps, who said: “As we accelerate towards a cleaner and greener transport future, it’s great to see one of Britain’s most iconic household names leading the way with electric vehicle chargepoints.

“In the time it takes to pick up the groceries, drivers up and down the country can now quickly and easily charge their cars and with £2.5bn of government support to encourage their take-up, there has never been a better time to switch to an EV.”

The Tesco Extra in Slough has been the busiest supermarket for free charging – with the sockets used more than 10,000 times.

It finished ahead of Tesco supermarkets in Stourbridge, Crawley, Altrincham and Bromley by Bow in the top five.

Making up the rest of the top 10 were the Tesco supermarkets in Watford, Orpington, Elmers End, Havant and Lichfield.

Director of Volkswagen, Andrew Savvas, said: “Our partnership with Tesco and Pod Point emphasises our commitment to carbon neutral mobility for all and we’re delighted to have reached this milestone – helping owners of all electric car brands top up with free renewable energy while they’re doing their grocery shop.”

Tony Hoggett, chief operating officer at Tesco, said: “We are committed to reducing carbon emissions in all our operations and aim to be carbon neutral in the UK 2035.

“As part of this we want to encourage our customers to play their part with the rollout of free-to-use EV chargers to 600 of our stores.

“Providing customers with charging points offers them a sustainable choice and giving them the opportunity to charge their car for free while they shop is a little help to make this easier.”

The partnership, which has been running for two years, was announced to improve the charging infrastructure as the UK prepares for an electric future.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 108,205 battery electric vehicles were registered in the UK in 2020, an increase of 185 per cent on 2019.

They can use the 7kW chargers along with 22kW rapid chargers where available for free, while 50kW rapid chargers are available for the market rate.

Erik Fairbairn, Pod Point Founder and CEO, added:  “Reaching the 500,000 charges milestone is testament to the growing appetite for EVs as well as the ease and convenience of the charging experience.

“The partnership is making great strides towards our goal of delivering the nation’s largest retail EV charging network – one that is reliable, accessible, secure and free making it even easier for drivers to choose electric and accelerate adoption.

“We look forward to powering up even more local areas as we continue our roll out.”