by Adam Hall Director of Energy Services at Drax Electric Vehicles

At the start of 2024, the UK reached an exciting milestone in its transition to net zero: the registration of its millionth Electric Vehicle (EV).

Since records began in 2002, a total of 1,001,677 EVs have been registered in the UK. Driving much of this growth are fleet managers, who are among the earliest adopters of the technology. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, fleet and company cars accounted for more than three quarters (77%) of new vehicle registrations last year. A study by Drax Electric Vehicles also found that almost half (48%) of businesses have already installed EV charging infrastructure – a further third (33%) plan to do so within the next 12 months.

Despite the surge in demand, there’s still a long way to go before electric becomes the dominant powertrain. In January 2024, petrol accounted for 57.3% of new vehicle registrations. Meanwhile, battery electric vehicles (BEV’s) market share stood at 14.7% – an increase of 1.6 percentage points on January 2023.

Loosening petrol’s stronghold on UK road transport will be no easy feat, particularly at a time when many businesses are scaling back on high-investment sustainability projects. The next cohort of fleet managers are inherently more risk-averse than the early adopters and require additional support and assurance throughout the electrification process.

So, what will it take to encourage more fleets to go electric? After speaking with hundreds of fleet decision makers, what’s clear is that many of them would benefit from greater transparency among the fleet community.

Currently, word of mouth is the main channel for information-sharing, with early adopters often acting as ‘influencers’. However, many of these conversations take place in silos and aren’t widely accessible. One fleet manager told us that he plans to wait another two to three years before switching to EVs for fear of making any mistakes.

To combat this, we must create more shared spaces where fleet managers can connect directly and learn from each other’s experiences.

One way to do this is by developing peer-to-peer knowledge hubs where fleet managers can speak openly to early adopters and other EV experts. These open forums allow fleet managers to gather information to help empower their decision-making, as well as troubleshoot any potential issues.

As is always the case when it comes to change, education is key. The internet is saturated with information which can be overwhelming for fleet managers. Likewise, EV experts and policy makers find it difficult to cut through with important messages, including the availability of government grants for EV chargers.

In a recent study, over a quarter (26%) of fleet decision-makers cited a lack of government support as a main barrier to electrification. However, the same study also revealed that one in three respondents were unaware of government EV grants and financial incentives, which may have contributed to the perceived lack of support.

We need to ensure fleet managers are aware of the financial incentives and practical support available to them. Not only will this help them make a stronger business case to the Board, but it’ll also remove a lot of unnecessary anxiety around the wider electrification process.

EV service providers also have an important role in providing clear, consultative advice. One of the concerns we hear time and time again from fleet managers is that by installing EV chargers, they’ll be faced with huge disruption to their operations. That should never be the case.

We spend a lot of time with our customers doing upfront suitability assessments and ongoing consultations that mitigate the risks involved with electrification and keep things moving as they should. That way, everything is planned for, and they can outsource much of the thinking to us.

For example, businesses often believe they need to install the fastest chargers for their fleet vehicles when, in many cases, slow chargers are perfectly suitable (and more cost-effective). We work with customers to help them understand their operational needs and propose the most efficient ways to charge their vehicles – minimising disruption and reducing costs in the process.

Moving to electric will take time for businesses and drivers to get used to. But as an EV driver myself, I can honestly say that once you’ve made the switch, you never look back. As the gatekeepers of this knowledge, we must share our experiences and challenge any untruths. The EV community is a close-knit one, and it’s through this inclusivity that we can help others overcome their fears and join the transition.


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