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Shift to EVs could be hit by shortages in fleet skills and vehicle supplies

Shortages in both fleet skills and new vehicle supplies as a result of Covid could lead to “poor decisions” being made – particularly impacting the move towards electrification.

FleetCheck warns that fleets deciding to hang onto cars and vans to wait for the EVs they want could incur “a large amount of additional cost”

FleetCheck has warned that very long lead times – caused by factors including the pandemic but also Brexit and slow production ramp-ups in the switch to EVs – are being magnified as a problem thanks to a decrease in available expertise.

While this impacts on all vehicle types, managing director Peter Golding said it’s especially an issue for EVs.

“What this does is create tough choices for fleets, especially those that are pushing hard for electrification. Do they hang on and wait? Do they opt instead for petrol or diesel models that are in better supply? Do they use interim measures such as medium-term rental?

“Each of these solutions has pros and cons that will be suitable for different fleets and even for different drivers, but deciding which is suitable requires in-depth research and a level of expertise that many businesses simply can’t access.”

The problem is being compounded by shortages of fleet skills in some organisations – the result of redundancies or furloughing among experienced staff because of the pandemic – and Golding said the overall combination “will undoubtedly lead to poor decisions being made”; potentially more so at SMEs.

Golding warned that a major issue could arise from fleets deciding to wait until the EVs they wanted were available to buy, with managers unaware of the costs and safety risks attached to keeping existing vehicles for longer.

Instead, he said it could be much cheaper to opt for medium-term rental, for instance.

“However, this kind of decision-making requires in-depth knowledge of maintenance profiles on quite a granular level,” he stressed.

“Our fear is that this expertise is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to access as the pandemic drags on.”

FleetCheck is looking at potential solutions to the skills shortage problem and will be bringing a new product to market in the first quarter of 2021.

“We want to identify new ways of providing help to fleets over key decisions, such as making the best choices when it comes to new vehicles. Our view is that there is likely to be deskilling in many organisations and we are looking at several options that will fill that gap,” Golding revealed.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 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. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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