For purist petrol heads, there’s nothing quite like the bone-rattling 15,000 rpm roar of an F1 grid. Parallels can be drawn across most other sports. The stirring patriotism national anthems bring before a Six Nations decider or the ‘deafening hush’ as a golfer stands over a 15-foot putt to win the Open. Live sport is about atmosphere and emotion, and no matter how good your surround sound, it never quite cuts the mustard watching from your front room.
Seeing Lucas di Grassi’s win in the Formula E over the weekend (from the sofa) it again felt hard to get used to hearing super-cars silently nipping round the circuit. However, made it the perfect city for Nissan to announce record sales for their electric vehicle fleet sales during the build up to Paris’ first grand prix.
Over the last three years there has been remarkable surge in demand for electric vehicles in the UK, with new registrations of plug-in cars increasing from 3,500 in 2013 to more than 58,000 at the beginning of April 2016. As a percentage of new car registrations, electric cars now represent around 1.3% of the total new car market in the UK in research undertaken by Next Green Car.
There are over 4,000 commercial electric vehicles now on the UK’s roads, with figures predicted to rise sharply over the coming years. Nissan’s growth, up 45 percent in 2015 is great news for the sector as a whole. It’s Nissan LEAF and e-NV200 in the fleet market also climbing for a fourth consecutive year in fiscal year 2015 with more than 20,000 EVs sold to fleet customers across Europe since launch – globally, that figure is almost 220,000 units sold.
It’s also more than just eco-aware private road users saving money and feeling better about themselves whilst sat in a polluted traffic jam; the UK fleet industry is waking up to the benefits of greener travel. According to CMF Capital’s John Mulheron we could see a huge shift in the commercial and fleet industries over the coming years.
“Yes, it’s taken time since the first electric vehicles hit the roads in the mid noughties, but the growth since the Government’s plug in scheme was launch in Jan 2011 and ongoing investment means there are 10,600 charging points across our road network. This has provided both the confidence and a financial rationale for the commercial vehicle industry to start the shift to EV’s.”
“Even with the falling cost of petrol and diesel there is a significant benefit in favour of electric. For instance, looking at a diesel van versus electric vans – taking typical diesel and electricity prices today and a year ago – the cost benefit over four years and 40,000 miles has reduced from £2,756 to £2,188. Multiply that across a 200 strong fleet, throw in the grants (for most models) and being congestion charge exempt and it becomes a compelling case for both large scale businesses and SME’s alike.” Continued Mulheron.
The need to reduce fleet costs and meet organisational goals of emissions reduction are the two most common drivers for changing to a greener fleet. And to help meet this end, there is also some support available for infrastructure installations to help integrate their use into existing fleets.
Whilst it’s take a while for the industry to manufacture sexy commercial vehicles, Hollywood ‘s’lebs’ have been patting themselves on their eco-backs in shunning gas guzzling stretch limos in favour of an electric or hybrid motor for their Oscars grand entrance. Whilst that might be a more a vanity parade, the consumer industry has also been given further spark and awareness with flamboyant entrepreneurs like Telsa’s Elon Musk getting in on the EV act.
Not satisfied with developing an international payment system or sending rockets to outer space and landing them back in the same parking space, he’s now trying to change the way we drive.
Musk, will launch the Model 3 in late 2017 is increasing its range to about 200 miles, it’s handling and also performance, an array of techie gadgets at price mid-tier motorists can afford. He has made punchy forecasts of where Telsa and the industry might be in terms of sales by 2020.
“With Silicon Valley racing against the Chinese for control over the electric and driverless car markets, the consumers we will see rapid change if the Beijing Auto Show is look into the immediate future. Governments have emissions targets and arguably our addiction to fossil fuels is a harder habit to break than filling up at the pump.” Noted CMF’s Mulheron.
“There has been some great work by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) which has been supporting the commercial industry through its Plug-In Vehicles advice portal. It offers businesses a bespoke report with recommendations outlining the potential for plug-in vehicles within a fleet. Their broader Plugged-in Fleets Initiative (PIFI), launched in 2012 is dedicated to helping fleets to identify opportunities to integrate plug-in vehicles through whole life cost analysis and a comparison of existing vehicles with appropriate plug-in alternatives.”
The Government, for once, cannot be accused of sitting on its hands either. It is investing £500 million over the next five years in ultra-low emission vehicles, innovative technology and charging infrastructure to support jobs and growth and keep Britain as a global leader for ULEVs.
Whilst that sum maybe small beer compared to the others, it shows a desire and commitment to help both private and commercial fleet drivers make the change.
Given the very first electric car was invented by Thomas Parker in 1884 and our milk used to pootle around on an electric float for decades, maybe that next phase of change will arrive a little quicker than even Ernie, the “fastest milkman in the west” would have imagined.