Why are fleets so slow to go electric?
- Created: 22 October 2018
Around 10 years ago, it seemed that the fleet van insurance policyholder of the future would be the owner of a fleet of predominantly electric vehicles, yet here we are approaching the third decade of the 21st century and it seems that, in fact, little has changed; the vast majority of commercial fleets are still made up of diesel and petrol vehicles.
For example, in 2010 online supermarket retailer Ocado introduced two electric vehicles to its fleet of 1,500 vans with the expectation that within only a few years the number of eco-friendly vehicles would grow and eventually surpass that of its traditional fleet.
Unfortunately, things have not panned out this way. Perhaps it is because of numerous economic pressures, because of a reluctance to make the capital expenditure, or because electric fridge vans require too much battery power to make them practically viable, but the truth is that Ocado, just like other supermarket delivery companies, is still some distance away from becoming a predominantly electric fleet van insurance policyholder.
Fortunately, there are encouraging signs that change may finally be brewing. Firstly, in 2017 Ocado asked Danish innovator TRIPL to conduct electric van trials in London, although these did bring to light concerns regarding load capacity and mileage range; then, and perhaps most encouragingly, this year Ocado finally added to its electric fleet when it bought 15 converted Fiat vans with a view to putting them on the nation's roads by the beginning of next year.
Government-level changes should make a difference to. Recently, the UK has offered EU-based incentives to companies, allowing them to employ standard-licenced drivers to drive vehicles above the 3.5-tonne weight limit provided that they meet certain eco-standards. Furthermore, as low-emission zone rules become more stringent, retailers will have to act if they are to keep operating costs low.
Amazon is just one of many retailers currently taking the lead. Its partnership with Mercedes-Benz means that by the end of this year, it will be running 100 eVito electric-powered transit vans in Germany. If this proves successful, it is surely only a matter of time before Amazon's UK arm follows suit.
Meanwhile, this month UK Power Networks added eight Renault Kangoo electric vans to its London fleet as part of a drive to move a greater proportion of electric vans. It may be taking longer than first anticipated but it seems with small steps we finally are moving towards the day when electric fleet van insurance becomes the norm rather than the exception.