Business travel down and EVs on the rise: it could be an interesting road ahead

Company Focus

According to the ‘British Business and Mobility Study’ by Sewells, the UK could see a 25 per cent reduction in both business travel and commuting. This could spark a major shift in the company car sector – a change that the Grosvenor Group has embraced already

At a time when businesses are also looking at ultra-low emission and electric vehicles (EVS), the combination of less driving and the rise of EVs, could lead to a potentially major shift in the company car sector.

The Grosvenor Group is an example of a contract hire and fleet management specialist that has embraced this already. With video conferencing facilities in its main meeting room, and a company-wide ambition to reduce its carbon footprint through less unnecessary travel, it has also become well-known for its award winning 0Zone solution which helps companies with cars and light commercial vehicles go green.

At Grosvenor, the average CO2 for new vehicles delivered in 2018 was 102 gsm/ km, and its overall average is now 104 gsm/ km CO2. Hybrid and electric vehicles now make up 26 per cent of order intake (this used to be five per cent) demonstrating the company’s commitment to driving towards lower emission vehicles.

“Many companies are looking at how they can lower their CO2 emissions with ULEVs and electric vehicles,” said Mark Gallagher, Grosvenor’s green fleet specialist and winner of this year’s BVRLA industry hero award for his contribution towards the green agenda in the fleet sector.

“However, as well as introducing lower emission vehicles, the simple fix is to travel less. By using technology you can have virtual ‘face to face’ meetings with customers, prospects and suppliers saving everyone time and money, and helping the environment too.”

Reducing business travel

The aim to reduce business travel, combined with the rise of electric vehicles, will have an impact on how we travel at work in the coming years.

But is this a practical option for everyone? Or are electric vehicles still only suitable for those living in major towns and cities?

Research suggests that 55 per cent of the global population are living in urban areas and by 2050 projections suggest it could reach 68 per cent.

Air quality and congestion measures will continue to discourage drivers from using their vehicles in urban areas, while the technology to help make choices about how to travel and have meetings is coming together rapidly

Curent limitations

Perhaps unsurprisingly, recent road tests of pure electric vehicles conducted with members of Grosvenor’s sales team concluded that, at the moment, they are less well suited for those who travel extensively with work – simply due to their battery range and the availability of charging points.

Two members of the sales team, who typically do high mileage, had an EV for a week and ended up using them for local and urban travel, but resorted to their traditional diesel and petrol company cars for longer journeys across their sales territories of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. However, with the number of charging points increasing nationwide week on week and battery ranges improving, this is likely to change in the coming years – and the overall feedback from the drivers was very positive regarding their EVs.

Customer advice

All Grosvenor sales personnel are also being encouraged to think about the journeys they make, and use the video conferencing facilities where possible. Grosvenor has a panel of experts within the business advising customers on a wide range of issues including compliance, CO2, taxation, legal, technical, policy, and health and safety. An advantage of video conferencing is that any one of the panel can be easily brought into conference call meetings, which is a benefit to customers.

For many companies, it feels like there is a lot to consider at the moment, however Mark explains that this is why Grosvenor set up its 0Zone solution over two years ago – to help with the transition towards ULEVs and EVs and to also look more broadly at how businesses could reduce emissions.

“0Zone is the Grosvenor Group’s award winning, and unique, solution to help companies navigate their way smoothly towards ultra-low emission and electric vehicles,” explains Mark.

“It offers companies with cars and light commercial vehicles an assessment of their environmental impact and defines a clear pathway to convert the fleet, over time, towards ultra-low emission and electric vehicles.

“The 0Zone team also offers advice in reaching timely decisions about when your green strategy should begin. This includes tailored budgeting, forecasts and help with the financial implications of choosing EVs and ULEVs. We also develop low emission vehicle policies and provide practical advice on the steps required to move smoothly towards Electric Vehicles and Ultra Low Emission Vehicles.

“The 0Zone team also assists with plug-in and hybrid demonstration vehicles (subject to availability), the cultural change involved in encouraging drivers into a new era of company vehicle, green fleet reviews, and grey fleet reviews.”