Go Ultra Low survey reveals more than 50% of company car fleets will be electric

Published on July 30th, 2020 | by Rhian Hawkings

One-third of the UK’s fleet managers expect more than 50% of their company car fleets will be electric within five years, according to a new Go Ultra Low survey.

The joint government and industry campaign to promote the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) recently questioned 500 key fleet managers and decision-makers that are responsible for running the full spectrum of vehicle fleets, from a handful of cars to more than one hundred vehicles.

  • One in three UK fleet managers expect half of their company car fleet to be electric by 2025
  • Seven in 10 fleet managers are preparing to buy an electric car within two years
  • Half of UK fleet managers are predicting an uptake in electric company cars thanks to Benefit in Kind tax changes

The survey, commissioned in partnership with the Energy Saving Trust, was designed to better understand the existing company fleet mix as well as the key considerations when it comes to purchasing and leasing EVs. Britain’s fleet sector accounted for 53.3%* of last year’s 2.3m vehicle registrations and is seen as a pivotal player in accelerating EV adoption.

The survey responses revealed an overwhelming appetite to embrace the electric era, with nine in 10 fleet managers enjoying the idea of driving and owning an electric company car and seven in 10 committing to purchase an EV within the next two years.

The recently revised changes to Benefit In Kind (BIK) – where the tax liability for fully electric company car drivers falls to 0% in 2020-21 and marginally increases to 1% in 2021-22 – has also resulted in a renewed interest in company car schemes. Yet while more than half of all managers (53%) questioned predicted an uptake in demand for electric company cars within their organisation, nearly one-third of respondents (32%) were not aware of the newly announced changes to BIK.

According to the survey, the three key factors that inhibit EV adoption amongst fleet managers include the elevated price point of electric vehicles (47%) and their limited range (51%), as well as a lack of chargepoints (56%). In fact, 40% of respondents had no charging provision at work so were reliant entirely on public infrastructure.

Reflecting on the findings, Poppy Welch, Head of Go Ultra Low, said: “Today’s research highlights that the Government’s Benefit-In-Kind tax incentives are helping to shift behaviour around company fleets and the car industry is supporting with exciting products. There are around 60 electric models now available and most are able to travel more than 200-miles on a single charge. The decisions fleet managers make about EVs today will be critical in driving mass adoption tomorrow.”

She continued: “The UK now has more than 31,000 public chargepoint connectors, and an additional 500 chargepoints are installed each month, but we still hear from businesses that charging infrastructure remains an area of frustration. Fleet depots and rental branches, for example, often need to negotiate complex terms with landlords, electrical consultants and energy providers to install their own chargepoints. That’s why we’re developing a series of fleet-specific initiatives with the help of the Energy Saving Trust, to provide companies with the information and advice they need to make the transition to electric as seamless and cost-effective as possible.”

Initiatives this year have included fleet sustainability workshops across the UK and a bespoke webinar series that discusses items from Benefit In Kind to incentives such as the Workplace Charging Scheme, supporting business, charities and public sector organisations with a financial contribution to the purchase and installation of chargepoints. This summer, Go Ultra Low and the Energy Saving Trust will also launch a digital Fleet Solutions Pack, helping companies make the switch.

The survey results have assumed additional importance since attention has turned to the coronavirus pandemic. While protecting lives is the first priority, British business will need to radically rethink all aspects of their value chains to emerge stronger. EVs offer significant savings to the running, taxation, maintenance and servicing costs of company vehicles, and 43% of fleet bosses had cited the car’s ‘whole life cost’ as the most important factor in making their companies switch from the internal combustion engine to electric.

Tim Anderson, Head of Transport at Energy Saving Trust, said: “As an industry, as we continue to navigate the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, there has never been a more imperative time to support the drive to mass EV adoption – one that will be both financially and socially advantageous for companies. When it comes to recognising the role and value of EVs, fleets are ahead of the curve. The lower Benefit in Kind rates will enable company car drivers to enjoy very low tax rates and accelerate the transition to clean transport. Yet, there remains further efforts to be made.”

*Figures provided by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

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