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Clean Air Zones to impact 40% of businesses, research shows

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

More than four out of 10 businesses (43%) believe they will be affected by the introduction of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) across the UK and the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in London, 

The findings stem from the 2020 Arval Mobility Observatory, which gains insights into fleet and mobility trends across the UK and Europe through a wide ranging set of questions.

It also asked respondents how they will react to the introduction of CAZs and the ULEZ. In total, 76% said they will replace vehicles to meet the new standards, 27% will find other types of transportation to allow them to continue doing business within the zones, and 27% will make no changes, accepting the impact and cost.

Shaun Sadlier, Head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, said: “These results indicate the ways in which fleets are planning to manage the introduction of the new zones across the country although, of course, many have now been delayed by the coronavirus crisis.

“Overall, more than four out of 10 believe they will be affected and, of these, around three out of four plan to meet the challenge by operating vehicles that meet whatever new regulations are being introduced.

“To us, this is unsurprising. In most places, the introduction of CAZs are really designed to remove vehicles that use older, less clean emissions technology from cities. The truth is that because the regulations are relatively straightforward, many fleets are already compliant. Over the next couple of years, just through normal, planned replacement of vehicles, most should meet the regulations.

“It’s also thought-provoking to see that around a quarter are planning to use alternative modes of transport. It would be fascinating to know what these are, especially whether some fleets are going to be able to make a switch into public transport or other mobility options.”

68% think In-car technology is a dangerous distraction

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68% of motorists say they’ve noticed an increase in other drivers being distracted by dashboard controls or using their mobile phones, but just 13% admit to being side-tracked themselves when driving.

The somewhat paradoxical findings are from a survey carried out by Venson Automotive Solutions that also shows that while 38% of drivers use hands-free/Bluetooth in-car technology for making phone calls whilst driving, nearly a fifth admitted to balancing the ‘phone somewhere to keep an eye on it, such as a cup holder, when using it as a satnav.

The survey results come as the Department of Transport (DfT) has announced a review of roads policing that will look at ways of reducing road casualties and deaths, and is asking for evidence on in-car technology and how this could be increasing accident risks as well as reducing it.

Businesses and fleet managers are recommended by Venson to impress on drivers the dangers of being distracted by their in-car tech and ensure robust processes are in place to meet their duty of care obligations. 

Drivers currently risk six penalty points on their licence and a £200 fine if they use a hand-held phone or satnav when driving. For motorists who passed their driving test within 2 years of being caught, the consequences are even more severe – they will automatically lose their licence and have to reapply and pay for a new provisional licence – passing both theory and practical parts of the driving test again to get a full licence.

However, the Venson survey shows that people’s appetite for more advanced in-car tech is growing – even if it isn’t in their current vehicle; 67% saying they would use a dashboard satnav if it were available in their car and nearly 50% of people surveyed said that they would like to have an emergency call button in their car in case of being involved in a road accident.

An app which informs the driver about the health of their vehicle’s tyres would also be welcomed by 48% of people, while 43% would make use of driver assistance technology such as cruise control, lane departure detection and speed limit exceeded notifications. 

In contrast, only 26% of people surveyed said they would like to see entertainment or lifestyle dashboard technology, such as apps that play music or offer concierge services.

Simon Staton, Client Management Director at Venson, said: “We may have some of the safest roads in the world, but anything that can be done to reduce the number of casualties on our roads is to be welcomed. The advances made in in-car technology have moved on very quickly, and as they become standard in new vehicles, the scope for driver distraction also grows. We look forward to the results and recommendations from the DfT review and would encourage businesses and fleetmanagers to get involved in the consultation process.”

The review is open for input until 5th October 2020.   More information can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/roads-policing-review-future-methods-to-improve-safety-and-reduce-causalities

Fleets ‘key to unlocking an electric vehicle revolution’

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UK fleets have the potential to accelerate an electric vehicle (EV) revolution, with a shift to zero tailgate emissions generating fuel cost savings of around 63% across a fleet and significantly boosting the second hand car market.

That’s according to a new report from Cornwall Insight and PwC – “Leading the charge! Fleet charging – a catalyst for the EV revolution”, which says that with 5.3 million vehicles on the UK’s roads, fleets – a group of vehicles owned or leased by businesses – are a vital part of the transport sector. 

As the UK moves towards net zero, fleets could be a major component in this journey by leading the charge in the electric vehicle roll-out – a move that would represent half of the number of EVs expected by 2030.

The decarbonisation of the light vehicle fleet will also have a positive impact on air quality. Research in the report states that if all 5.3 million fleet vehicles were to generate zero emissions as much as 30 million tonnes of CO2 would be eliminated – around 25% of all UK transport emissions.

In evaluating the electrification of the fleet market, the report identifies which segments of the sector will be crucial to leading the EV revolution and outlining a road map that fleets may follow as they electrify.

Key findings of the report:

  • Fleet electrification is a critical catalyst that will enable the EV revolution in the UK.
  • Field services, depot-based logistics and leased corporate car fleets are likely to electrify first.
  • Government policy has a critical role to play in enabling the EV fleet transition.
  • The business models of charge point operators need to incorporate some key principles to be successful.
  • Fleet electrification providers will be an attractive opportunity for institutional investors.
  • If fleets are to maximise the opportunity of electrification, they need to take some critical and preparatory steps in designing their road map.

Not only do fleets constitute a sizeable proportion of the UK’s transport sector, but they are also responsible for more than half of new car registrations (56%) in 2019. So it is easy to see how the electrification of fleets has transformative implications for EVs.

And with a life cycle of between two to four years, fleet electrification has the potential to accelerate growth in the private, second-hand market. As fleets renew their stock, this will not only deliver greater choice and affordability for consumers but will, in turn, act as a catalyst for increased consumer adoption of EVs. Choice and affordability are still one of several barriers to EV update.

However, as the fleet electrifies, this will reinforce the need and underpin the economics of EV charging infrastructure throughout the UK. This will ensure ‘range anxiety’ does not stall the electrification of this vital segment.

On the findings of the report, Daniel Atzori, Research Partner at Cornwall Insight, said” “The electrification of fleets is set to gain momentum, driven both by sustainability commitments and by compelling economic drivers. 

“Fleets are likely to play a crucial role in the upcoming electrification of mobility and therefore in the decarbonisation of transport.

“Since fleets can ensure a high rate of utilisation of charging assets, fleet charging offers a range of interesting investment propositions. Having a clear and well-defined strategy will be crucial for fleet managers, charge point operators and investors looking to achieve leadership in this emerging market.”

Steve Jennings, PwC’s Energy and Utilities leader, said: “As well as demonstrating the appeal for investors, our report also illustrates  how utilities and charge point operators (CPOs) may play a key role in supporting EV fleet adoption, with business models evolving around advisory support to promote charging infrastructure and fine-tune electrification.

“It’s clear that field services, depot-based logistics and leased corporate car fleets have the right characteristics (such as predictable driving and charging patterns) to spearhead EV adoption.

“However pent up demand and rising levels of awareness amongst fleets is not enough to accelerate adoption.Government policy has a critical role to play. As we emerge from the current Covid-19 pandemic, alongside a strong focus on stimulating economic growth, we may see a growing emphasis on sustainability, including regulatory and strategic support for EV charging, to help address emission levels and improve air quality.

“Without policy certainty for all stakeholders across fleets, EV charging providers and investors, there is a risk that the full potential of this burgeoning EV revolution will not be realised.”

5.3% of fleet vehicles are Euro 4 or older – Research

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5.3% of company cars and vans being operated by customers of FleetCheck only meet the Euro 4 emissions standard or older.

That’s according to new analysis by FleetCheck, which says further 18.2% of vehicles from the total sample of 85,792 also fall behind the latest Euro 6 legislation by only achieving Euro 5.

Peter Golding, Managing Director at FleetCheck, said: “We compiled these figures to illustrate the disparity that currently exists across fleets when it comes to emissions. While at one extreme, some are actively working to achieve zero emissions, at the other, we can see that almost a quarter of all the vehicles our customers operate are Euro 5 or older.

“Because there is a strong SME bias in our customer base and these businesses tend to hang on to cars and vans for longer than corporates, they are probably worse than the fleet parc as a whole. However, they remain an indication of how far the industry will have to travel to achieve the kind of low or zero emissions performance we’d all like to see.”

Golding added that most of the oldest and most polluting vehicles in the analysis appeared to be diesel vans, many of which were operated on a spare or pool vehicle basis.

“It is not uncommon for smaller businesses to continue to operate vans until they become uneconomic to repair or too unreliable for everyday use. Even some of the latter will be kept in the yard as a spare van and used occasionally. However, there is a strong argument that these vehicles shouldn’t be on the road at all, given their poor emissions.”

Over the next few years, he added, there was a strong possibility that the introduction of Clean Air Zones would start to see more of these vehicles disappear from fleets.

“While CAZs have arguably got off to a slow start, it seems likely that at least some will ultimately move to the ULEZ model and operate a Euro 6 minimum for diesel vehicles,” said Golding. “This is one of the factors that will start to see some of these older vans start to disappear.

“However, well ahead of that point, more could be done to persuade fleets to stop operating these vehicles. That might mean disincentives using measures such as Vehicle Excise Duty or it could mean incentives such as wider use of scrappage schemes.

“On a simpler level, the economics behind the ongoing operation of these older vans are often highly questionable, and getting this message across to businesses is also something that we perhaps should be communicating more widely as an industry.”

Alternative fuel cars hit record sales, but overall market falls

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The UK new car market fell -1.3% in November, with 156,621 models registered, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This maintains the downward trend for new car registrations throughout 2019, as multiple factors, including weak business and consumer confidence, economic uncertainty and confusion over diesel and clean air zones, combined to affect demand.

In November, the decline was driven primarily by weak private demand, registrations down -6.1%, while the business market also fell, down -3.2%, but fleet registrations fared better, up 2.8%. For the second consecutive month, total alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) registrations reached a record market share, with more than one in 10 cars joining UK roads either hybrid, plug-in hybrid or pure electric – equivalent to 16,052 cars. 

Demand for the latest battery electric cars surged by 228.8%, with 4,652 registered, while the markets for plug-in hybrids and hybrids also rose by 34.8% and 15.0% respectively. Elsewhere, petrol grew 2.0%, taking the lion’s share of all registrations (62.2%), as diesel fell -27.2%. Year-to-date, the overall UK new car market is down -2.7%, with 2.2 million cars registered, in line with current industry forecasts.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “These are challenging times for the UK new car market, with another fall in November reflecting the current climate of uncertainty. It’s good news, however, to see registrations of electrified cars surging again, and 2020 will see manufacturers introduce plenty of new, exciting models to give buyers even more choice. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go for these vehicles to become mainstream and, to grow uptake further, we need fiscal incentives, investment in charging infrastructure and a more confident consumer.”

The key data in charts:

Air Taxis to reach 430,000 globally by 2040

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The influx of established aerospace, automotive and technology companies into the urban air mobility (UAM) market, backed by technological advancements and government initiatives, is expected to drive the air taxi market.

According to research from Frost & Sullivan, Air taxi operations are forecast to commence in 2022 in the Middle East and grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.9% to reach 430,000 units in operation globally by 2040.

“The United Arab Emirates (UAE), New Zealand, and Singapore are expected to be the first adopters of air taxis, while Brazil and Mexico, too, will be early adopters by leveraging their helicopter taxi expertise,” said Joe Praveen Vijayakumar, Mobility Senior Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Globally, almost 50 cities are considering the feasibility of UAM, and most of the applications are focused on cargo drones, which will eventually open up the market for passenger UAM vehicles.”

Frost & Sullivan’s report, Analysis of Urban Air Mobility and the Evolving Air Taxi Landscape, 2019, studies the current trends in the UAM market and how they are likely to evolve. It assesses the need for these vehicles, vehicle models, application areas, key players for inter- and intra-city taxi services, and presents strategic recommendations.

“Safety, noise levels from propulsion, infrastructure for landing and take-off in urban areas, and favorable regulations will be key focus areas for the commercialization of air taxis,” said Vijayakumar. “Original equipment manufacturers will be looking to especially invest in hybrid fuel systems, lightweight high-strength composite materials, and alternative energy sources such as solar and lightweight high-capacity batteries to achieve fuel efficiency and longer range.”

With the increase in the number of UAM vehicles, there will be a range of growth opportunities for support services such as pilot training, servicing, repairing, and maintenance. Frost & Sullivan says UAM companies can optimally tap the market by:

  • Incorporating multiple fail-safe mechanisms in their vehicles to instill confidence in potential passengers.
  • Collaborating with companies developing innovative next-generation rotors and propellers that can muzzle sound.
  • Establishing the support infrastructure, including landing and take-off stations, passenger waiting lounges, and landing pads, in residential buildings.
  • Developing internal cybersecurity capabilities or acquiring cybersecurity start-ups to safeguard their vehicles.

Analysis of Urban Air Mobility and the Evolving Air Taxi Landscape, 2019 is part of Frost & Sullivan’s global Automotive & Transportation Growth Partnership Service program.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

Brits want electric cars to sound like… cars

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

A new survey has revealed that British road users want electric cars to sound like cars to ensure safety for pedestrians and other road users.

The survey, conducted by Venson Automotive Solutions, found that 43 percent of drivers would prefer a noise that mimics the sound of a conventional petrol or diesel engine on an electric vehicle, particularly when driven at low speed, while 23 percent would prefer a continuous low decibel sound. 

The findings come as manufacturers work to meet new legal requirements for all new hybrid and EVs to incorporate an acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS) – From July 1, 2019, all new electric cars sold in the EU have to be fitted with AVAS and all existing models by July 2021.

70 percent of those polled also preferred a horn sound similar to that made by a conventional petrol or diesel engine, along with 72 percent admitting they felt that all electric vehicle sounds should be standardised.

Under EU law, from 2021, EV drivers will be able to manually trigger a warning sound, as in a horn but less urgent, to alert pedestrians and road users of their presence. 70 percent surveyed said they would like to hear a horn sound similar to that made by a petrol or diesel engine vehicle. 

Just 13 percent wanted to hear a phrase such as ‘EV approaching’, however, 6 percent would prefer an animal sound like a roar, bark or quack instead of a traditional vehicle horn.

Alison Bell, Marketing Director for Venson Automotive Solutions, said: “The integration of AVAS into hybrid and electric vehicles is a very positive move.  Almost silent electric and hybrid cars put vulnerable road users at risk, especially children, the partially sighted and blind. As more fleet drivers opt for emission-free electric models, with the introduction of zero BIK tax from April 2020, they will be relieved to know that with the introduction of AVAS their choice will no longer put road users at risk.

“With over 100 years of petrol and diesel engine sounding vehicles on our roads, people naturally react to the sound of an approaching vehicle or a horn being sounded. Keeping sounds we are used to hearing on UK roads makes the most sense when it comes to road safety and saving lives.”

Most wanted fleet ADAS devices revealed

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Collision avoidance and emergency braking head the list of advanced driver assistance (ADAS) systems desired by fleet and mobility managers on company cars.

That’s according to new research from Arval, which reveals 49% ranked collision avoidance or warning systems in top place, followed by automatic emergency or braking systems (46%), pedestrian detection systems (38%), lane departure warning systems (30%), driver fatigue warning systems (30%), automatic parking systems (20%) and adaptive cruise control (15%).

The findings come from the 2019 edition of Arval Mobility Observatory, which covers 3,930 fleets and asks a wide ranging set of questions about fleet and mobility trends.

The research also looked at the measures taken by employers to minimise road risk. The most common is a risk assessment (61%) followed by a safety communication programme (35%), on-road training (33%) and classroom training (22%).

However, there is a wide variance between the smallest and largest businesses. For example, 84% of those with more than 1,000 employees carry out risk assessments compared to 32% with fewer than 10 employees. The difference is even more marked for on-road training, with 62% against 11%.

Shaun Sadlier, Head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, said: “ADAS systems are becoming very common on company cars but they are something of an issue for fleets in that there is very little reliable information available about which work best in terms of actually helping drivers avoid accidents.

“What this research represents is therefore really a list of which devices fleet and mobility managers believe will be most useful in real world conditions – and what it indicates they want more than anything is to avoid collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians.

“Our view is that ADAS technology works best in promoting safety when used alongside telematics devices that allow driver behaviour to be highlighted, helping employees to make improvements both by themselves and through options such as training.”

Most useful systems to improve driver safety

Collision avoidance or warning systems                                     49%

Automatic emergency or braking system                                    46%

Pedestrian detection system                                                          38%

Lane departure warning system                                                   30%

Driver fatigue warning system                                                      30%

Automatic parking systems                                                            20%

Adaptive cruise control                                                                   15%


Measures taken to minimise road risk

                                                All       Fewer than                10-99             100-999         More than 1000
                                                            10 employees          employees    employees    employees

Risk 
assessment                          61%                32%                62%                79%                84%

Communication
programme                           35%                12%                35%                47%                57%

On-road
training                                  33%                11%                26%                43%                62%

Classroom
training                                  26%                8%                  32%                37%                38%

‘Range & charge point anxiety’ a prevailing urban myth among fleet drivers

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

While many company car drivers are genuinely interested in the benefits of driving an electric vehicle, the UK’s charging structure still creates concern for 69 per cent of those motorists polled.

The findings, from a survey by Venson Automotive Solutions, come as Nissan reports there are now more EV charging stations (9,199) in the UK than conventional fuel stations (8,396) and the Department for Transport reports that at present, the UK has a network of more than 24,000 public charging connectors in nearly 9,000 locations. 

In addition to highlighting a wide misconception that there is a lack of EV charging points across the UK, the Venson survey also reports preconceptions regarding limited battery range which came a close second; 57 per cent of those surveyed reported this was still a barrier when considering an EV.  

However, according to Go Ultra Low, the range of 100% electric cars is rapidly improving. Huge advances in battery technology and falling costs mean this will continue to grow.  Today, virtually all Go Ultra Low pure electric cars can drive over 100 miles with ease on a single charge; some of the latest models are closer to 200 miles or more.  

Alison Bell, Marketing Director at Venson Automotive Solutions, said: “With charging and battery range concerns abated, EV fleets should now be far more appealing to businesses.  The revised BiK charges which sees zero-emission electric vehicle tax liability for company car drivers fall from 2 per cent to 0 per cent for the tax year 2020-21, will also appeal to company car drivers which should boost demand for EVs in the next 12 months.”

Further good news is that 86 per cent of motorists surveyed said that a ‘lack of clarity in terms of ownership implications as a company car driver’ is a thing of the past, and more than two thirds of drivers said that they had a good understanding of the costs and convenience of owning an EV.  

Dealerships are also making it easier for fleet managers to promote a charge towards electric – only 13 per cent of motorists cited lack of ‘try before you buy’ options as an obstacle to purchase and only 5 per cent of people surveyed said they are worried about manufacturer lead times in acquiring an EV.  

Bell concluded: “Whilst our survey findings confirm a greater willingness by company car drivers to adapt to an EV world, there are still some ownership concerns. 41 per cent of people we surveyed expressed concern over the practicalities of being able to charge their vehicle at home.  And 30% per cent said they had concerns over service, maintenance and repair costs.”

The Venson Automotive Solutions ‘Plug-In Vehicle Guide’ is free and can be downloaded here. 

Image by andreas160578 from Pixabay

‘Terrible’ road conditions & congestion top fleet manager concerns

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Fleet and mobility managers want the Government to tackle terrible road conditions and congestion.

That’s according to research from Arval, which revealed that of nearly 4,000 fleet mangers polled, over half the respondents (54 per cent) said that they wanted to see better roads, with 47 per cent asking for a solution to congestion.

30 per cent of those polled supported incentivising companies to adopt newer fuel options such as electric and hydrogen and improving public transport (22 percent).
 
18 per cent of fleet and mobility managers also believe that Government should be doing more to reduce pollution caused by road transport.
 
The findings come from the 2019 edition of Arval Mobility Observatory, research which covers 3,930 fleets and asks a wide ranging set of questions about fleet and mobility trends.
 
Shaun Sadlier, Head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, said: “The striking aspect about the areas highlighted by fleet and mobility managers is that they are all highly practical issues that affect the running of business transport on a day-to-day basis.
 
“The condition of roads and the problem of congestion are a concern because they affect the core efficiency of company transport. Businesses want journeys to be predictable and safe, and poor roads and large volumes of traffic have a negative effect on this aim.
 
“It is also striking the extent to which there is a desire to see Government make the adoption of EVs and hydrogen vehicles easier. There is clearly growing enthusiasm among businesses for these cars and vans, but also an awareness of the need to make their cost and the level of infrastructure support more appealing.
 
“Linked to the adoption of zero-emissions fuels is the belief that more should be being done to tackle road transport-based pollution. Our experience is that businesses are almost always supportive of Government moves to make improvements in this area.
 
“Finally, some people may think it surprising that fleet and mobility managers want to see better public transport but the strategic developments we are seeing in this area show that businesses see the future of travel as being one where cars and vans are used alongside a range of other options. Better trains, trams and buses should form a key part of this mix if possible.”

Image by shilin wang from Pixabay