Electric fleets could save firms money and CO2

23rd February 2012


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Organisations could save up to £700 a year by switching from diesel to electric vans, according to green technology think tank the Climate Group

In an analysis of the costs associated with buying and running fleet vehicles, the group reveals that in the long-term electric-powered cars and vans could save businesses money, particularly if the costs of fuel continue to rise.

Businesses using vans to make deliveries in and around towns would stand to benefit most by switching to an electric equivalent, with estimated savings of £995 over seven years for vans travelling more than 21,000 miles, even if energy prices stay at today’s levels. If firms then recharge vehicles’ batteries during times when electricity tariffs are lower (off-peak) these savings could increase to £1,401.

The research, which also involved the Energy Savings Trust and Cenex, a centre of excellence for low-carbon technologies, estimates that if diesel prices continue to increase – 80% over the next seven years – organisations could achieve savings at lower mileages and with company cars as well as vans. The analysis concludes that over five years a van travelling 15,500 miles a year in cities could cost £828 less to run than a diesel van and over seven years £2,373 less.

For firms with lower annual mileages and with only three-year fleet cycles, however, the research confirms that electric vehicles do remain more expensive. For company and pool cars, the difference in costs is marginal, with an electric car costing between £15–£556 more than a diesel one over its life.

The research compared the costs of buying and running electric vehicles against similar diesel vehicles, taking into consideration government subsidies, such as the plug-in grant for buying new vehicles and relief from road and company car tax, for example.

Robin Haycock, head of transport at the Climate Group, said: “More than half of all new cars and vans in the UK are bought by fleets and the report clearly highlights that savings are possible…Outside London we have found sweet spots where an electric vehicle can save 7p per mile compared to a conventional vehicle and an electric van in central London will benefit from 100% congestion charge discount.”

However, Robert Evans, CEO of Cenex, warned fleet managers that: “Given their range and recharging requirements, for economic and operational integration of electric vehicles drive-cycle based whole-life cost modelling is essential.”

The report was published as the government revealed a list of seven vans now eligible for its plug-in grant scheme, which provides funding for individuals and businesses wanting to buy new electric vehicles.

Launched in November 2010 for electric cars, the scheme has now been extended to include vans and offers buyers a grant of up to £8,000, or 20% of the van’s cost. The vans announced as eligible under the scheme include: Daimler Mercedes-Benz’s Vito E-Cell, Faam’s Ecomile and Jolly 2000 and Renault’s Kangoo ZE.


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