By David Rose, Head of Product, Alphabet GB
Never has the spotlight been so strongly focused on climate change than in 2021, with COP26 creating a pivotal moment calling for action, and undeniable environmental benefits from last year’s national lockdowns showing consumers and businesses alike what can be achieved by all working to a common goal. As such, companies and fleet managers today understand the importance of building true environmental sustainability into their business. Not only is this becoming a key differentiator to attract potential new employees, but it is also vital to help businesses achieve net zero targets. However, implementing sustainable practices can often feel like a daunting task, with many not knowing where to begin.
A proven route to enact noticeable change is for company fleets to make the switch to electric. Cost savings will be immediately evident for businesses, through reductions in employer National Insurance Contributions and lower fuel costs. Employees will also benefit through the Benefit in Kind tax relief, essentially giving them a pay rise by the personal savings made. With COP26 setting clear commitments for all new HGVs to be zero emission by 2040, and all car and van sales similarly needing to hit 100% zero emission by 2035 in leading markets, electrified vehicles are now one of the most important immediate goals for countries to achieve global net zero by mid-century.
The transition is already underway, with the electric and plug-in hybrid sector growing at rapid pace as fleet managers increasingly recognise the benefits of electric and the need to implement an electrified fleet strategy. At Alphabet, the shift towards pure electric vehicles over plug-in hybrids has been undeniable, with a 248% increase of pure electric vehicle orders year-to-date compared to 2020. Plug-in hybrid vehicles remain popular however, and sales have continued to rise compared to last year’s figures, up by 174%. This growth will also be enhanced as we see the new EV charge point designs, unveiled by the government at COP26, rolled out across the UK, improving accessibility and choice for local governments and industry.
Despite knowing the benefits of electrified vehicles and an evident increase in sales, there are still many delaying the transition. The most important step for fleet managers to take is starting the shift to electric today, getting ahead of the 2030 deadline. By choosing the right partner and following a few simple steps, fleet managers can ease themselves into the journey of electrification.
1. Engage key stakeholders early across all areas of the business, not just fleet
The importance of involving key stakeholders across different functions of the business, including HR, procurement, finance, CSR and operations, should not be overlooked. Everyone in the business needs to buy into the change and be part of the journey to electrification, otherwise they will simply see a more expensive electrified vehicle at face value, not understanding the tax savings and benefits that come with it. Whilst driven by the fleet team, implementing electrified fleets with the support of the whole business will ensure the easiest transition.
2. Consider Plug-In Hybrids (PHEVs) as a stepping stone
Every organisation operates in a different way and has different requirements when it comes to finding the right electrified vehicles, so it’s understandable that sometimes it may be tricky to shift all fleet operations to pure electric vehicles in one go. PHEVs therefore remain an important part of the e-mobility journey, particularly as charging infrastructure continues to improve across the UK. PHEVs also act as entry level low emission vehicles for drivers, easing concerns about going electric and providing a crucial bridge in the road to electrification that should not be overlooked.
3. Choose a supplier to support all EV charging environments
Implementing the right infrastructure for both workplace and home charging is key to reducing downtime and keeping your employees on the move. While this may seem like a daunting factor in making the move to an electrified fleet, it’s important to remember you don’t have to do it alone. Choose a supplier that is an expert in all environments that your employees will be charging – at home, at the workplace and on the go. At Alphabet for example, we partnered with NewMotion, experts in e-mobility and charging ecosystems, to make the process of implementing charging for our customers even more efficient and carefree.
4. Partner with the experts
The potential move to electrified vehicles often leads to misconceptions that huge changes will need to be made to your company's existing fleet policy, but this is not the case. The most important step you take in your shift to electric is choosing the right fleet partner to guide you through the process. They will consult and guide you end-to-end, immersing themselves in your journey, and navigating infrastructure implementation and business mileage reimbursement, to remove potential stressors from fleet managers.