Comment: What the new year and the rise of the EV will mean for fleets
Kevin Pugh, country manager at rapid charge device specialist Tritium, takes a look at what the coming 12 months have in store for fleets.
It’s safe to say we can look at 2019 as the year the path forward was mapped out for electric vehicles (EVs).
The ULEZ scheme went live and with it came the financial sting of driving a petrol vehicle through the streets on London (with upwards of £40m in revenue generated between April and August for Transport for London), thus making EVs a more attractive option. And Bristol became the first city to propose banning diesel vehicles.
The Porsche Taycan was launched, and with it the capability to add about 200 miles of range for 10 minutes of charging. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson declared in a pre-election policy announcement, to free up £500m for the installation of a “fast-charging network” across the country with the stated aim of having a charger within 30 miles of every possible driver.
And the DRIVE ENERGI EV rapid charging network was announced, with plans to install rapid charge points at 2,500 sites across the nation by 2025.
The dawn of the ubiquitous EV is just over the horizon. So, what does 2020 hold for this new EV era, and what might be in store for fleets?
Thankfully, what we saw in 2019 is just the tip of the iceberg, with more in the way of innovation to come with regards to the vehicles themselves – and for fleets, more availability of models and the infrastructure needed to make them viable.
1. Shifting the re-fuelling experience beyond the service station
The advantage of EV charging is that we don’t need to look at infrastructure in a linear fashion anymore: it’s zero-emissions, with minimal footprint, and can be placed indoors or outside.
In 2020, you’ll see more and more chargers placed beyond the forecourt with many 50kW DC rapid chargers installed at places such as pubs, restaurants and within the community.
Why? These chargers are an additional attraction to the EV driver, who can charge while having a business meeting, refuel over lunch or unwind after a long journey. For fleets, this will become particularly relevant to their operations as the availability of rapid charging on the road will ensure “range anxiety” for fleet owners and drivers is less of an issue, if it exists at all.
2. High-power charging to hit the highways of Britain
For fleets, particularly the long-haul or courier fleets driven by delivery deadlines, the need to charge and charge more quickly than ever will become even more paramount.
Thankfully, the emergence of 100kW-or-more higher power DC charging is upon us. These chargers can add between 64 and 220 miles to the range of an EV in just 10 minutes of charging and we’re seeing them rolled out in huge numbers across Europe, particularly 350kW chargers that are part of the world’s fastest and largest charging network, Ionity.
In 2020, we will begin to see motorway service station operators starting to upgrade their infrastructure to cater to this increase in demand for high-power charging. We believe many charge point operators will chose to install 100+kW charging option, with some looking at the higher-powered 350kW. Most cars available today cannot utilise the full charge rate of the 350kW chargers, aside from the Porsche Taycan, but those who choose this option will be making a wise investment to future-proof their infrastructure.
3. Fleets to lead the way on EV uptake
Research indicates that 88% of the UK’s largest fleets expect to order an electric car within the next 12 months. But we see it as more than the purchase of a couple of EVs per fleet; as more of the mid-priced electric vehicles with 200-mile plus range batteries become available, and as operators look at a vehicle refresh, we believe the EV fleet will really take off in 2020.
There are significant drivers for this. The ULEZ and similar schemes will be one; no fleet operator wants to pay the costs of operating a petrol fleet in inner cities. Additionally, EVs require less servicing, with fewer complex aspects to the EV motor – this lowers the overall annual operational expenditure for the entire fleet as well as the total cost of ownership for each vehicle.
And with an increase in publicly-available charging infrastructure, the average EV driver will be able to realistically switch to an EV from a petrol vehicle without any trade-off to convenience.
4. Parking spaces to morph into charging hotspots
The UK, and in particular our cities and suburbs, has an off-street parking shortage. The typical EV driver, without the ability to charge their vehicle at home, needs to have access to a publicly-available charging infrastructure.
That’s why, in 2020, we will begin to see an increase in the transformation and monetisation of parking spaces at retail and leisure outlets into charging stations. All that’s needed is the charger – many fit at the end of the parking spot between the tyre-stop and the wall – and an electrician to set up the charger. Those parking spots then become money-makers for the business, as well as becoming an attraction for drivers who visit the store(s) while their EV charges.
This is already happening in some parts of the UK and other parts of the world – but as EV uptake increases in 2020 we will begin to see these chargers increasingly at shopping centre car parks across the nation.
2020 promises to be the year in which spotting an electric vehicle on our roads will be a more commonplace occurrence, particularly led by the uptake of EVs among the UK’s fleet operators.
As the infrastructure required to charge them increases in the new year, it’s simply a matter of time before EVs dominate the landscape and bring with them a new era of zero-emissions driving.