Fleets entering "tougher" period of electrification


Fleets are starting to enter a “tougher” period of electrification in 2024, now some of the easier-to-electrify areas have been completed, the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) is reporting.

Paul Hollick, chair, explains: “When it comes to electrification, so far fleets have largely been picking low hanging fruit in large quantities. That means switching company car drivers with space for their own off-road chargers into EVs, with very low personal taxation as a considerable carrot. This has been hugely successful, and we expect that part of the market to continue to move forward as more models become available and electric fleet cars become the absolute norm.

“The issues lie elsewhere and the list is quite long. For example, there is still a general absence of pick-ups, 4x4s and other specialist vehicles in the EV sector, towing capacity is uncertain, insurance costs are rising very rapidly and are sometimes prohibitive, and there are still no easy charging solutions for people living in terraced houses or apartments.”

Paul said that creating a consistent used market for EVs was a further challenge and one where fleets needed to work in conjunction with the remarketing sector.

“The drop in EV values seen in the last year has made dealers understandably wary while confidence among at least some consumers has been shaken by the government’s 2035 move and a steady stream of EV-bashing stories in some sections of the media.

“Also, we’re in a situation where fleets arguably have too many of the ‘wrong’ EVs for the used market. There is a surfeit of prestige saloons and SUVs around, and a shortage of bread and butter family hatchbacks. This has, to some extent, been a reflection of the kind of EVs available to buy so far, but it does lead to supply distortions.”

An area that presented a series of electrification challenges on its own was vans, Paul added.

“Some fleets in some applications are adopting electric vans without any problems but they are almost certainly in the minority. Ultimately, while things are improving, the range and payload of the available models just doesn’t meet the needs of most operators, while the charging infrastructure is not yet in a place to offset these disadvantages.

“The operational compromises required to overcome these issues are considerable, and some of our members have currently paused their commercial vehicle electrification as a result.”

Fleet managers were working hard to overcome all of these challenges, Paul said, and showing a high degree of drive and ingenuity.

“There is no doubt that this phase of electrification is tougher and there are no easy answers to any of the problems that are being encountered. However, we’re seeing many kinds of new best practice ideas being developed and shared across the AFP that are having an impact. It is one of those moments when being a member of the organisation brings maximum benefits.”