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10 key takeaways from the AFP’s new EV training for fleets

The Association of Fleet Professionals recently ran its first ‘Making the Switch to EVs’ online training course for fleets. Natalie Middleton reports back with some of the key outcomes for operators.

The AFP said in its training that electrification of the company car sector is coming fast and fleets should explore getting onboard early and unlocking savings

This year is due to be a blockbuster year for fleet electrification – for multiple reasons ranging from BiK incentives to increased model choice and the countdown to the 2030 ban on the sale of new ICE vehicles.

As the pressures for fleets to go electric ramps up, so too has the work by the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) to help support its members in making the switch.

Founded in March 2020 under the merger by ACFO and the ICFM, the AFP has fast progressed its work to ensure its offering wide-ranging support to all the latest fleet issues, including EVs, backed by its recently founded committee.

Solutions on offer include a new charter that provides AFP members with advice and guidance as well as best practice documents and training & education via the new ‘Making the Switch to EVs’ course.

The training has been created by a team led by the AFP’s Jon Burdekin, a fleet consultant with more than 30 years of experience in the sector and a specialist knowledge in EVs.

There are five modules, starting with a market overview examining the current upsurge in interest in EVs, progressing through how to evaluate your fleet’s potential to electrify, analysing the cost and eco benefits of switching to EVs, managing the real-world transition and, finally, overseeing ongoing EV operations in a business-as-usual environment.

The course was held for the first time on 16th March 2021 and attended by Fleet World as well as a number of fleet managers.

To provide a flavour of the vast wealth of information given in the course, here’s some of the main soundbites:

1. “Electrification of the company car sector is coming fast and this is about getting onboard early before the targeted deadline and unlocking savings by early adoption.

“You will see every month a new electric car being launched to the market or announced. So you’re going to see a choice that’s fast improving, certainly in the car market and to a lesser extent in the van market, coming in month by month in 2021. The public charging infrastructure has been growing exponentially and according to Zap Map’s figures there were over 38,700 connectors available in 14,000 plus locations as at 5th March 2021. although that could be a red herring for those who can charge at home and do the kind of daily mileage that is conducive to their electric vehicle. For those who do have a concern with public charging, it’s growing and it’s growing fast.”

2. “Plug-in hybrids can still have a place on a fleet policy for at least one change cycle. If a plug-in hybrid works better then they should have a role. I think they have a place for high-mileage drivers who cannot charge at home.

“I think people should try and aim to get into a battery electric vehicle in the first place and only resort to a plug-in hybrid if you can’t make a battery electric vehicle work. There are genuine reasons why a battery electric vehicle might not yet work for a driver and in those cases, let’s pull back to a plug-in hybrid.”

3. “This isn’t about getting everyone over to EVs straight away, it’s about seeing who could move in phase one. And then having a targeted approach for the rest of your phases, right up to 2030 if necessary. But the sooner you get all your fleet over to EVs, the sooner you benefit from the cost savings and CO2 savings you have identified as your goal.

“There’s a bit of a sweet spot now to get as many people into electric vehicles as possible, from a financial perspective. The more you can transition to EV now, the better.”

4. “The worst thing to do is carry out all this analysis and stick it on the shelf for five years. This is a very, very fast-moving and dynamic sector. The mass uptake of EVs is going at such a pace, whether it’s the tax changes, the grants, the vehicles, the charging infrastructure, battery technology, or all of these things, the one thing you can be sure of is that the analysis you did a year ago will soon be overtaken by industry developments. It’s worthwhile keeping your finger on the pulse for all of these changes. Because it will affect how your fleet develops and embraces electric. Or hydrogen for that matter, if this gains traction.”

5. “What I’m seeing is cash takers wanting to come back into company car schemes for exactly the same reason they left: tax. A company car is the most tax-efficient way to take an electric vehicle by far, because of the Benefit-in-Kind incentives for battery EVs. It is financial suicide to give someone cash and tell them to go and get an electric car on a personal lease with that cash. The savings if you bring them back into a company car are astronomical in comparison.”

6. “The AFP are lobbying the Government. It’s all very well having a tax regime up to 2024/25 but there is this feeling that without any longer-term commitment, the rules could change dramatically in terms of clawing back lost tax revenues. We are campaigning to see if we can get a clearer path for EVs right the way up to the 2030 watershed. Because we don’t think the two should be disparate. It’s a simple as that. If you’re encouraging people to go down the zero-emission route, then you have got to have a tax regime that supports it all the way through to 2030.

7. “It’s worth bearing in mind that HMRC doesn’t currently recognise electricity as a fuel, even though they have an Advisory Electricity Rate for it. So if the employer is paying for the electricity directly, there is no Benefit-in-Kind attributable to the employee. And that applies to installing home charge points. If an employer decides to pay for home charge points, maybe as an alternative to workplace charge points, that’s not going to generate a Benefit-in-Kind for the employee. So there are a few things to think about for business mileage recharge.”

8. “There is an interesting consideration for certain businesses about whether they will allow workplace charging to be opened out to the general public, either in the evenings or weekends when it’s not being used by your drivers or your customers. Do you do this as a nice community gesture? You might to do this to recoup the cost of the installation and charge x amount per minute.”

9. “For those who can charge at home and do 80% of their charging at home, probably nearer to 90-100% at the moment, the home charging point is the critical piece in the jigsaw for the majority of drivers who can have it installed at home. So it’s important to make it as easy as possible. This is the go-to source for many of your drivers.”

10. “Many drivers can make an EV work for them now, if they’re prepared to make some changes to their lifestyle or some sacrifices. The more sacrifices you have to make, the more challenging the adoption of an EV becomes, until it becomes too hard. For now.”

 

Peter Eldridge, AFP director, added: “This was our first presentation of the EV Training Programme and we were delighted with the response we received from the delegates who took part. This course is part of a broad range of training & education opportunities that we have available via our AFP Fleet Academy, all of which are designed to enhance the skills and knowledge of fleet operators and fleet support specialists.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.