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EV trial shows future viability, says Zenith

The trial is being held to assess the real-world viability of electric vehicles, in particular for fleets, and has seen employees from the leasing and fleet management firm have been using two Zenith-branded Nissan Leaf models for the last three months, with the help of a charging point installed at the company’s head office in Leeds.

So far the cars have been driven over 3,000 miles by 45 different employees. The car itself has been rated very highly by those who have tested it, with 85% of drivers who tested it saying that they were satisfied with its ease of use and 95% satisfied with the specification. Handling and performance were rated well, with both gaining a figure of 95% satisfied or above, while 75% were impressed with the vehicles’ reliability. And a total of 95% were pleased with the vehicles’ environmental credentials.

Overall, 17% of drivers said they would definitely consider exchanging one car in their household for an electric car and 39% said they may consider it. Several drivers stated that they would opt for an electric vehicle as a second car for local trips, while others would only consider it when concerns about range and charging are addressed.

However, the trial did highlight that the vehicles have limitations and are only currently useful for certain types of travel. The availability of charging points was a problem for 40%, 53% were dissatisfied with the range of the vehicles and 50% felt that the charging time was poor or very poor. The range of the vehicles was of particular concern at night when use of lights reduces power or during warmer weather when the air conditioning is in use.

The cost of buying a vehicle was another concern and 25% of employees said it would prevent from making the change to electric motoring.

Tim Buchan, Zenith’s CEO, commented: ‘We believe electric vehicles do have a use for businesses, particularly as pool cars to be used for short journeys, for longer trips within the range or where there is an overnight stop when it can be charged. Improving charging times and practicality of charging would assist their take-up, as would increases in range.’

He added: ‘In the recent Autumn Statement the Government announced it was reviewing the Benefit in Kind tax position for electric cars. We do hope they reverse the decision to end the tax breaks for ultra low emission vehicles from 2015. If technology is to improve and if users are going to be encouraged to embrace changes to alternative fuels, then incentivisation along with investment in development and infrastructure needs to continue.’


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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news - or gossip.

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