A-to-Z EV Rally: Team Europcar


Preparations for the A-to-Z EV Rally are well underway for Team Europcar. Tom Middleditch, Head of Electric Mobility at Europcar Mobility Group UK, shares why they decided to return for the second year, and what they are planning to do differently
Europcar took part in the Rally last year, and we're delighted that you are joining us again. What made you decide to get involved this year? 
The 2023 event was an excellent opportunity for us to get on the road and discover the real-world experience of electric motoring. A number of the Europcar team already drove electric before the Rally, but we had probably stuck to fairly well-known routes, with well-known charging stops, etc. What the EV Rally did was put us in the driving seat of our customers’ experiences – we wanted to use the event as an educating experience for our colleagues and our customers.  
The Rally was also a great opportunity to meet with other companies on the road to zero, giving us great insight into different approaches and strategies to integrating EV into business operations. 
All of these reasons – along with the different approach to the route that is being taken this year – were the motivation for signing up again this year and for taking on the bigger role of official vehicle provider. In the last 12 months we have significantly bolstered our EV capabilities – by the end of 2023 electric vehicles accounted for 12% of our overall fleet and more than 60% of our branch network is now electrified. We are therefore in a really strong position to support the rally organisers and capitalise on the whole experience. 
Please tell us about Team Europcar – who will be driving and in what vehicles? 
Last year we used the opportunity to try out a range of vehicles from a number of different OEMs. This year we’re focused on taking vehicles from our own electric fleet. So we will be driving a Jeep Avenger, Skoda Enyaq, Mercedes EQV SUV and Renault Kangoo eTech. And the driving team comes from all areas of the business – enabling us to relate the experiences back to every customer touchpoint in the coming year. 
I am leading the team and will be joined by CSR champion, Karen Moule, Gary Barker who leads our Fleet Administration team and Darren Cunningham who is responsible for our network electrification.  
Other colleagues will join us each day, plus we will be joined by EV champion and record breaker, Kevin Booker. Kevin is the holder of a number of World Records for EV driving achievements and he is going to help each of us understand all the tips and tricks to get the best out of electric motoring. We also expect to use his insight and expertise after the event, sharing that knowledge with our customers as they ramp up for the road to zero. 
Europcar is also the Rally's Vehicle Provider, giving vehicles to the Official Media Crews and EV Rally senior management. What vehicles will you be providing, and what benefits will they offer? 
Europcar is delighted to be providing four Tesla Model 3s for the EV Rally team. One of the most popular electric models on our fleet, it combines extraordinary performance and cutting-edge technology and will be the ideal mobility solution on the Rally. Setting the benchmark for electric motoring, the Tesla Model 3 features a simplistic interior,  while boasting outstanding safety credentials. 
The Rally is over 1,400 miles and this year will be visiting towns and checkpoints from A to Z in alphabetical order. As you have completed the rally before, what learnings will you be bringing with you to help with your strategy this year? 
Well, first of all, based on last year, we know it’s going to be a great opportunity to team build and network and it will be educational and fun! 
Our strategy this year is to really think about the experience of driving electric in a holistic way. We know that planning ahead is key to eliminating the FUD – fear, uncertainty and doubt. And we will definitely be adopting the ‘charge when you stop rather than stop to charge’ ethos. It worked really well last year. 
The other learning from last year was having a better understanding of the vehicle being driven. That’s why this year each of us will stay in the same vehicle for the duration of the rally – rather than trying out different vehicles on different days. That way – and with Kevin Booker’s help – we can learn about the different charging and driving settings to maximise the energy! 
What improvements do you hope to see in the public charging infrastructure? 
Charging infrastructure has a bad reputation, however the network is growing rapidly across the UK and although it remains a real concern for business and private drivers, our data suggests it is less significant than upfront and maintenance costs. 
We expect to see that availability will be varied on the route – but we also expect to see that a number of providers are doing more to provide access. According to Zapmap at the end of April 2024, there were 61,232 electric vehicle charging points across the UK, across 32,697 charging locations. This represents a 45% increase in the total number of charging devices since April 2023. 
Why are events like the EV Rally important for driving up electric-vehicle adoption? 
Our own data shows that there are still a lot of businesses and private drivers that are not sure about driving electric. So anything that can be done to break down those barriers is important. That’s why the EV Rally is critical; and why Europcar is so pleased to be involved in it again this year. 
The big hurdle is knowledge. More than one in five private and business drivers (23% each) surveyed by Europcar admit to a lack of knowledge around EV driving and ownership, highlighting the urgent need for driver and fleet manager education around the options and practicalities of zero emissions mobility.  
Our research has consistently found that uncertainty and misconceptions due to a lack of experience with electric vehicles stands in the way of drivers opting to go electric. We have invested in resources to help inform drivers of the reality of EV driving, as well as constantly adding to our fleet to provide the widest possible choice for renters. And being part of the EV Rally is another important step in improving knowledge and understanding. 
Please tell us about Europcar's own sustainability plans and progress? 
2023 saw Europcar Mobility Group UK motoring towards its environmental targets, becoming part of its customers’ sustainability journey. We are committed to helping businesses and private motorists make the change from ICE to electric, through innovative tech-based solutions, electrification across our network, and a growing range of low and zero emission vehicles. And we do not just ‘talk the talk’, we also ‘walk the walk’, with our rental fleet increasingly electrified as well as the integration of EVs into our own operations, such as for our Delivery & Collection service. 
Some of the key achievements in the last year include: Europcar customers driving more than 3.5 million EV miles in 2023; 50,000 more EV rental days driven year on year; 99.5% of Europcar’s corporate customers having access to EVs; and over 25% of Delivery & Collection journeys using electric cars and bikes.
Moving a business to a zero emissions strategy requires clear thinking, detailed planning and a hands-on real-world experience. And our carefully designed EV solutions are future-proofing the whole mobility process and already support many organisations as well as private motorists on their sustainability journeys. 

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