22nd December 2017

Going electric could save British fleets £14bn

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British businesses could save almost £14billion a year on fuel if all of their vans and HGVs were  alternatively fuelled vehicles, according to a report by Hitachi Capital UK.

The finance group’s Future of Fuel report estimates that electricity would be approximately 15p a mile cheaper than petrol or diesel for vans, and 38p a mile cheaper than diesel for HGVs. Over the combined 65.7 billion miles that commercial vehicles travel each year, the fuel savings would total approximately £13.7 billion.

The report includes a survey of 149 fleet professionals which found a strong desire among businesses to adopt green fuels. As many as 62 per cent of fleets now contain alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs), the most common types being electric and hybrid cars.

In addition, 82 per cent of those surveyed believed that it was important to move towards AFVs. With manufacturers improving technology and governments introducing new incentives, 42 per cent of fleets planned to add more AFVs over the next two years. However, 28 per cent of respondents said that their organisations should be doing more to switch to alternative fuels, and 73 per cent thought the government could do more.

Those surveyed cited infrastructure and vehicle costs as the biggest obstacles in the way of  alternatively fuelled vehicles uptake. Other concerns included electric vehicle range, as well as the availability of suitable gas and biodiesel vehicles.

Many of the respondents thought that Clean Air Zones – set to be introduced in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton by the end of 2019 – should help. Almost two-thirds said the zones would make them more likely to use AFVs.

Robert Gordon, CEO of Hitachi Capital UK, said: “Our report shows that alternatively fuelled vehicles are becoming a staple feature of British roads, with businesses leading the way in terms of adoption. The challenge is to deliver the infrastructure to make their usage a viable and attractive option for consumers as well as businesses.

“The £400 million earmarked for an electric charging infrastructure fund, announced in the chancellor’s recent budget is a start, but there is still more to be done.

“Promisingly, our research revealed that 65 per cent of fleet professionals believe that Clean Air Zones, one of the latest policies designed to encourage the uptake of AFVs, will prove successful.” 

Commenting on the findings of the report, Professor Jonatan Pinkse of Alliance Manchester Business School, said: “We have never had such a great opportunity to advance the development and prevalence of AFVs. Though technologies such as electric vehicles are not necessarily new, this is the first time that AFVs have received such a great deal of support across the board.

“This is a truly exciting moment for AFVs. We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the innovation and benefits they are set to bring to businesses and consumers alike in the future.”