UK firms urged to seize £14bn electric vehicle opportunity

UK businesses could make annual fuel savings of around £14bn if all of Britain's vans and HGVs switched to electric alternatives, according to a new report from Hitachi Capital.

Electricity would be about 15p/mile cheaper than petrol or diesel for vans, the financial services firm claims, and around 38p/mile cheaper than diesel for HGVs.

The figures are based on Government statistics for vehicle miles, petrol and diesel consumption, and fuel and non-domestic electricity prices.  

“Fleets cannot afford to ignore the amazing potential of alternative fuels,” said Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions managing director Jon Lawes.

Strong will

The report reveals that there is a strong will from fleet professionals to adopt green fuels. A survey of 149 respondents showed that 62% of fleets now contain alternative fuel vehicles.

Meanwhile, 82% of those surveyed said it was important for fleets to make the transition to cleaner vehicles such as electric and hybrid cars, with 42% planning to add more alternative fuel vehicles within the next two years.

This comes amid a backdrop of improved technology and political incentives for green fleets. A host of car manufacturers have this year made pledges to accelerate the move towards low-carbon models, while the UK Government has vowed to ban all new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040.

Removing barriers

But there are several barriers in the way of low-carbon vehicle uptake. The survey names infrastructure and vehicle costs as the biggest obstacles, followed by EV range, and availability of suitable gas and biodiesel vehicles.

According to the poll, most fleet professionals believe that the creation of Clean Air Zones – set to be introduced in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton by the end of 2019 – should help.

And just under one-third (28%) said that their organisations should be doing more to switch to alternative fuels.

George Ogleby

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