There is a concerted push by the automotive industry to develop new and genuinely useable electric vehicle technology. This provides fleet managers with a plethora of choices.
In recent years, petrol engines have become more efficient, not just diesels, and manufacturers from a cross section of the price spectrum have introduced hybrid and electric models in the last twelve months.
Diesel’s advantage, when it comes to CO2 emissions, hasn’t so far translated into lower Benefit in Kind (BIK) thresholds, as the government has imposed a 3% diesel levy. This is set to change from the 2016/17 tax year onwards.
79% of over one thousand company car drivers surveyed by Lex Autolease still drive diesel vehicles, 65% of these comprising large saloons or medium-sized hatchbacks.
Self-employed business people are free to choose any vehicle and some still opt for petrol, especially if they don’t drive long distances on a regular basis, but increasing numbers are choosing hybrid or electric vehicles such as the e-Golf or Tesla Model S, doing their bit for the environment.
Surprisingly, one third of the 249 fleet managers polled by Lex Autolease ranked the environmental impact of their fleets as their second-lowest priority. Hybrid cars are deemed practical by 43% of fleet managers, while only 12% consider all-electric vehicles to be an answer.
British Gas’ fleet contains a number of Nissan e-NV200 vans and Center Parcs runs forty electric Renault Kangoo vans, demonstrating that large companies are able to rely on such new technologies. It’s worth noting, however, that the aforementioned companies’ vehicles aren’t likely to cover long distances and will remain within reach of charging facilities.
Nationwide couriers, north-south chauffeurs, sales executives and perhaps even police forces would struggle if they relied on fully electric vehicles, due to range anxiety, which still overshadows many electric cars.
Until the majority of electric vehicles offer a range of around 200 miles, they, along with petrol hybrids, will continue to prove more suitable for short-distance fleet drivers for the foreseeable future, especially around London where they are Congestion Charge exempt.
Diesel hybrids will likely form a larger share of the company car sector, although fleet managers will need to monitor their real-world fuel efficiency, owing to the typical effects of heavy batteries on board.
For now, mileage and purchase or leasing costs are the two most pertinent factors for fleet managers to weigh up, but as electric vehicle technology becomes much more affordable, the future is set to be very interesting and unarguably greener.
For more information on this issue, please read our recent interview in Business Aspects Magazine, Which Fuel is Good For Your Fleet?