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Comment: September EV sales bring electric future closer than ever

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Following a surge in UK electric and hybrid vehicle sales in September, Philip Valarino, head of EV projects at EDF, on the business EV challenge in getting to net zero and the support available.

Philip Valarino, head of EV projects at EDF

Recent figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that the UK’s new car market has recorded its weakest September since 1998. Despite this downward trend in sales, September marked the best month on record for new battery electric vehicle (EV) uptake

So, things are going in the right direction, at least for the EV market. The growth in EVs is certainly a trend worth celebrating and something we hope to sustain as the UK continues its net zero journey. However, we need to stop thinking about the mass uptake of EVs as a goal for the future and begin to make practical and purposeful steps now.

Not only is this important for the EV market in isolation, but it is also incredibly important for wider sustainability targets in the UK. The Government has made very ambitious net zero commitments that, if we are to have any chance of meeting, need to be addressed as a priority. When it comes to the role in which businesses can play in reducing their negative impact on climate change, EVs have a major part to play.

It is now easier than ever for businesses to make the transition to an electric fleet, leaving fleet managers with limited barriers for making the change. But this easier path to progress has not developed overnight, it has been facilitated by three main factors; new and improved technology, reduced cost implications and the current EV narrative.

Technology

Advancements in technology have made EV fleets more appealing than ever. No more so is this evident than in the case for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, which now allows EV users to charge their vehicles and store energy, then feed it back into the grid at peak times to help balance energy demand.

Not only does this support the grid by allowing two-way energy flow, it also helps users to progress towards their net zero and decarbonisation targets by consuming low carbon energy. As this technology continues to improve at pace, the adoption of an electric fleet will fast become the only viable option for responsible business fleets in the near future.

Cost

One of the most important and well-publicised hurdles facing fleet managers when deciding what to do with their fleets is the upfront cost incurred. It used to be that making the switch to EVs was seen as an extremely costly and inefficient process, but that is simply no longer the reality.

To lessen the financial impact of transition, the Government offers grants and other incentives for users, making an EV a more attractive option when purchasing a car. As well as this, new charging services – supported by companies such as EDF – can contribute financially to a business, easing pressures on the bottom line. For example, we recently launched a new commercial charging service with Nissan that allows users to achieve around £350 savings per charger each year, which equates to approximately 9,000 miles of driving charge annually. This financial benefit goes a long way to justifying the case for a fully electric fleet.

Narrative

Another factor that will help fleet managers take the leap of switching to an electrified fleet is the current narrative around EVs more generally. Gone are the visions of them existing only in some technologically advanced future, not really a practical solution to the here and now, they now exist as a necessary and credible step for all businesses that utilise vehicles to deliver their services.

In the near past, fleet managers may have struggled to sell the concept to decision makers in their organisation, but – thanks to improved public perception and increased share of voice for EVs in society – the long list of positives they bring are now widely known.

At EDF, we want to show fleet managers that the transition to EVs can be a relatively painless and beneficial process. Providers like us can support at every step of the way – from charging services to tariffs – meaning that it is not a daunting process that has to be tackled alone. The September SMMT figures show that thousands of people are making the change, so why not you?

 

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