By Shaun Sadlier, Head of Consultancy, Arval UK
The moment before lockdown perhaps now seems like a long time ago but, if you cast your mind back to early March, there was much excited talk about the prospects for electric vehicles on UK fleets.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak had just announced a three-pronged commitment from the government to support the EV market – advantageous tax measures for businesses, similar benefits for drivers, and expenditure to support the growth of the charging infrastructure. A whole raft of new EVs were announced that looked set to assist in broadening the fleet appeal of electric cars for fleets and drivers. It seemed as though the moment had come for EVs to become mainstream company cars.
Then coronavirus happened. The question now is, will the lockdown and the “new normal” that follows affect the prospects for electrification?
To answer, we need to ask what has changed for fleets over the last few months? Initial feedback from businesses suggests that there is a refocussing of priorities. While few are signalling any reduction in numbers of vehicles, many will be putting a focus on costs. With this in mind, we at Arval UK see no reason why fleets should waver in their drive towards EV adoption. Indeed, there are factors that may make corporate commitment to zero emissions vehicles even stronger.
Firstly, the tax incentives and other measures that the Government announced pre-crisis remain in place and are still highly attractive from a financial point of view.
Secondly, while the purchase price of EVs are generally high compared to petrol and diesel cars, our experience at Arval UK is that the total real world running costs are highly competitive and, in some cases, better than internal combustion engine alternatives. This is something that may not yet be widely understood but we are planning wider education to make this point explicit.
Lastly, the desire for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and work towards reduced emissions is unlikely to be changed by coronavirus and there may even be a shift towards placing greater emphasis on these areas as a result of the crisis, to come back better than before – an intention we’ve heard from many of our customers.
So, overall, while there may be a slight delay in the drive towards electrification, the direction of travel hasn’t changed at all, something that we very much welcome. Our view is that electrification is good for businesses, their drivers and the planet. The current crisis hasn’t changed these facts.