How mobility management and the electric drivechain are opening the door to more sustainable fleets (1/2)
According to the European Federation for Transport and Environment, transport is Europe’s biggest source of CO2, responsible for the emission of over a quarter of all greenhouse gases. Fleet managers are therefore in a uniquely powerful position to influence not just European but global CO2 emissions, to help the world meet the increasingly salient 2050 Paris climate commitments.
This is particularly the case given that most company cars are sold into the second-hand car market, putting fleet managers in control not just of their own vehicles, but also a large proportion of used vehicles in the private market.
In the first of this two-part blog, we look at some of the fleet procurement, vehicle utilisation and mobility management considerations that can help mitigate the environmental impact of both company vehicles, and those owned by employees but driven for business.
Probably the most effective step any forward-thinking fleet manager could take would be towards the electrification of their fleet. In April 2019, fully electric vehicle sales soared 70 per cent year on year across Europe. Certainly the cost of electric vehicles (EVs) has been dropping, while charging times have been speeding up and ranges increasing. The Tesla Model 3, for example, now has a range of up to 530km and can provide 160km worth of charge in under eight minutes.
Most governments are also offering generous grants or tax breaks to encourage the move to electric. In Norway, now the fastest adopter of electric cars in the world, it is no coincidence that thousands of pounds worth of incentives are being awarded to electric vehicle shoppers.
Fleet decision-makers should take time to weight up their options – for some, retaining diesel on company car choice lists may prove the most prudent approach. Purchase and lease costs for EVs still remain relatively high and residual values may simply not be strong enough to justify the purchase cost.
When comparing diesel engines with their petrol counterparts, diesels emit 20 per cent less CO2, on average. Furthermore, diesel engines continue to offer greater fuel efficiency than similar capacity petrol engines – in some cases by as much as 30 per cent. Companies also need to look closely at the pragmatics of charging availability across the areas where they operate. Some countries are a lot further ahead with the requisite charging infrastructure than others, as the table below illustrates.
France, in third position according to the latest available figures, has set standards high with a target of 100,000 charging stations by 2020, but not all countries are as ambitious.
Top 10 EU countries for number of public access EV chargers (in 2017)
Source: www.eafo.eu, 2017 via “Electromobility in Austria 2017/18 – Highlights“ AustriaTech
Fuel policies should be reviewed on a regular basis to determine the most suitable approach, balancing cost-efficiency with and environmental outcomes. Smart buying strategies and fuel discount structures can help in controlling costs in the short term, but the business case for EVs vehicles over the mid and longer-term will become ever more compelling.
Challenging employees to think differently about mobility
The average car owned by an employee but used for business trips is around eight years old and produces 20pc more carbon emissions than the average company car or rental car.
Trying to persuade such employees not to automatically default to their own car for business trips is inevitably challenging, but experience is showing that it can be done. As we head towards World Car Free Day on 22 September and European Mobility Week (16-22 September), it is clear that attitudes are – slowly – changing.
The UK’s Energy Saving Trust, for example, has introduced a ‘travel hierarchy’ checklist to encourage employees to find the most cost-effective and greenest method of transport for a particular journey. From questioning whether a face-to-face meeting is even needed, the list then goes through public transport, walking or even cycling options, before considering hire or pool cars and finally, as a last resort, their car.
The Association of Car Fleet Operators in the UK is now rewarding employees who proactively choose greener alternatives by reducing the annual mileage required to qualify for a company car, as long as they can prove that other transport options are also being used. Twin-track mileage claim rates are also becoming more popular, where employees who use their car when public transport would be a perfectly viable option are only eligible for a lower business mileage rate.
For companies where employees need to make only short journeys between different sites, electric car sharing can have a huge impact on CO2 emissions.
For longer journeys, rental cars, usually much newer and more environmentally efficient than employees’ vehicles, can also reduce carbon footprint, but it’s important to agree a CO2 emissions cap with rental suppliers to ensure that employees aren’t ‘upgraded’ to gas guzzling models when vehicle availability is low.
The evolution from fleet management to mobility management is bringing with it smart analytic tools that can help businesses optimise decisions in this area.