AFP

The cost of highway charging is pricing some fleets out of electric vehicle adoption, says the Association of Fleet Professionals’ (AFP).

AFP chair Paul Hollick explained that for fleets whose drivers don’t have access to home or depot charging, the price of power made running costs sometimes unsustainable.

“We’re looking at a situation where using a public charger on the motorway might be 80 pence per kWh compared to perhaps a quarter of that or even less for people who have a charger on their drive.

“It’s a difficult situation. If you have drivers who live in a terraced house or an apartment so can’t install a charger at home, and who don’t often visit a location with car park or depot charging, then there is no choice but to use retail charging and it is exponentially more expensive.

“The whole total cost of ownership argument for EVs is very much based around low-cost charging. Electric cars and vans are relatively expensive to buy and residual values remain difficult to predict, but operators should be able to at least partially balance this out with low charging costs. Where this isn’t possible, some fleets are simply finding themselves priced out of electrification.”

The situation was unlikely to change until on-street charging infrastructure dramatically improved, Paul said, but this could potentially happen quite quickly.

“More and more, it feels as though massively improved public infrastructure is the number one element that would help EV adoption. Not only would widespread low-cost on-street charging help fleets with affordability but it would mean that day-to-day operation of electric vans would become more viable for many fleets by providing overnight facilities.

“It would also bring a potentially significant boost to the used EV market. We could relatively soon find ourselves in a situation where used electric car values fall to a point that they are opened up to a much wider range of buyers but that the charging options open to them are limited. Unless people can charge economically, they are understandably unlikely to buy.

“Really, what we want to see is a massive increase in on-street charging happen very rapidly and this is something that we would very much urge whichever government is elected this year to examine. Also, at the AFP, we’ve been working hard on mapping areas where charging is most required, and there are clear opportunities for fleets to work with local authorities who are accessing centralised Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Funding. There is the potential for change to happen quickly with a constructive approach.

“It does need to feel as though things are happening on the ground much more rapidly than is now the case. There needs to be visible, nearby, low-cost EV charging for all.”

Order quotas being stipulated by van manufacturers in response to the zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandate are creating a conundrum for operators, says the Association of Fleet Professionals’ (AFP).

The industry body is reporting that several major van makers are insisting that a proportion of all vehicle orders must be electric vans in order to reflect the percentage of ZEV vehicles they are now legally required to sell.

AFP chair Paul Hollick explained: “It’s quickly becoming a widespread practice that when a fleet wants to order a quantity of vans, manufacturers are asserting that a percentage is electric – often 10% to reflect the 2024 ZEV mandate.

“The problem is that some fleets just don’t have a role for these electric vans within their business. Their payload and range requirements mean there is no operational profile for which the electric van can be practically used, or there is no suitable charging infrastructure.”

Paul said that the situation presented a conundrum for fleets – whether to try and place orders with manufacturers who weren’t insisting on order quotas, to not replace existing diesel vehicles and keep operating them for longer, or to buy quota electric vans and use them for occasional lighter duties or simply park them up.

“All of these courses of action are far from ideal. Changing van supplier can be quite an arduous task for fleets, meaning that the whole van unit has to be rethought including fitting out. Hanging onto older vans that really need to be replaced means that you are likely to experience problems with reliability and has potential risk management and environmental implications. Lastly, it’s just not viable to buy expensive assets like electric vans and not really use them in the operational roles where you actually need a solution.”

Paul said that the situation was likely to become more acute quite rapidly, with the ZEV mandate for vans rising from 10% in 2024 to 70% in 2030.

“We fully understand why manufacturers are having to introduce order quotas of this type – it is very much a result of the legislation. In a sense, we are seeing the policy in action but the issue is that there are fleets for which electric vans don’t just mean acceptable compromises but effectively won’t work. For that to change, sizeable advances in both the capabilities of electric vans and their supporting charging infrastructure need to happen.”

Similar quotas were being introduced for car orders, he added, but this was not a problem for most fleets because they were already buying a majority of electric cars.

“Electrification for fleets is very much a story of huge success for cars and much slower progress for vans. While the ZEV mandate stipulates lower quotas for vans than cars, it doesn’t really reflect the extent of the differences in the speed of adoption.”

The full of list of speakers has now been confirmed for this year’s annual conference from the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).

Taking place at The British Motor Museum, Gaydon, on Wednesday 15th May, the event is expected to attract 250 members and is sponsored by Enterprise Mobility.

The day is built around four panel sessions. The first is called New Manufacturer Entrants for 2024-2026. Moderated by AFP board member James Pestell, it will feature Jeanette Griggs of BYD, Andrew Pilkington of VinFast UK, Peter Renton of Omoda and Jaecoo UK and Russ Peterson of Munro.

Panel two is titled Decarbonisation is Not Just EV’s. Moderated by AFP board member Matt Hammond, it includes Rob Anderson of Mitie, Oz Choudhri of Enterprise, Chris Connors of ISS, Oliver Holt of Geotab, Aaron Powell of Speedy, James Rooney of Network Rail and Rob Simister of Centrica.

The third panel session is There’s Never Been a Better Time to Manage Your Road Risk. Moderated by AFP board member Peter Milchard, it features Martin Edgecox of National Highways, Emma Loveday of Volkswagen Financial Services, Dave Parry of FMG, James Walkington of Miele and Brian Quinn from Samsara.

Finally, panel number four is EV Charger Deployment – Everything You Need to Know but Don’t. Moderated by AFP board member Lorna McAtear, it includes Mark Constable of Trojan Energy, Dave Pickles of Jorra, Mike Potter of Drive Electric and Ashley Tate of Allstar.

There is additionally a keynote speech from Abdul Chowdhury of the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles plus a presentation on EV Deployment in Action from Stuart Murphy of Royal Mail and an update on the Zero Emissions Van Plan from Catherine Bowen of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association., including Andy Bland, Keith Neville, Oz Choudhri, and Kate Cooper-Griffiths.

There will also be an AFP Fleet Academy in Action session entitled Engaging Drivers with Road Risk, as well as an awards ceremony for those who have received AFP Fleet Academy qualifications.

Finally, a number of representatives from headline sponsors Enterprise are also taking part in a panel called In the Spotlight, including Andy Bland, Keith Neville, Oz Choudhri and Kate Cooper-Griffiths.

Paul Hollick, chair at the AFP, said: “The conference is centred around sharing best practice, sparking new ideas and finding workarounds to the challenges currently affecting the fleet industry. We have assembled a group of expert speakers who will provide genuine insight into the salient topics affecting fleets to help members make incremental progress.

“Also, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet, network and chat to fellow members, partners and exhibitors throughout the day. We are looking forward to bringing everyone together for what promises to be an insightful, practical and collaborative day.

“Tickets are going very quickly and there are only a few places left so we would urge AFP members who would like to come along to register as soon as possible. We’d also like to thank Enterprise Mobility for their sponsorship. Support of this kind is what makes events such as the AFP Conference possible, and we’re very grateful for their involvement.”

Find out more here – The AFP Annual Conference 2024 – AFP

“Strong progress” is being made by the Association of Fleet Professionals’ (AFP) new shared charging committee, formed to examine ways in which businesses can make their electric vehicle (EV) chargers available to other organisations.

AFP chair Paul Hollick said the group had just held its third meeting, and that it appeared many of the tasks surrounding the practicalities of shared charging could potentially be resolved quite quickly.

“Where we are now is that we have a set of electric van operators who think that shared charging is a very good idea and would really like to make it happen. It is the objective of the new committee to look at what needs to be done to make it a practical proposition.

“There are a whole series of hurdles that we face – including setting prices, payment mechanisms, reimbursement, site access, health and safety on premises and more – but from our discussions so far, none of them appear to be impossible to solve.”

Fleets represented at the latest meeting were The AA, Alliance Healthcare, Auditel, IFC Group, National Grid, Novuna and Royal Mail. Also taking part was Evata, a company that specialises in digital infrastructure for shared charging.

Paul said: “The fleets involved have a range of different ideas and propositions. Some want to arrange reciprocal charging with others on a national basis, some have chargers and would like to offer access to others, and some even have land available where they would potentially be able to install further chargers for widespread fleet use.

“There seems to be general agreement that shared charging is not really about overnight use but providing an option for top-up charging that enables an electric van driver to complete their journey during a working day.

“From our latest meeting, it appears that digital infrastructure is available that would answer many of the questions that we have around pricing, payment, blocking out availability to ensure that ‘home’ fleets get priority access to charging when they need it, and even site access where there are security measures in place such as RFID gate access.

“If anything, the main discussion point seems to be health and safety, with employees entering sites where there are potential risks present of many different kinds. This has implications for both the business providing charging and the visiting driver, and is one of the questions that we’ll be looking at during our next meeting in May.

“However, there appears to be a real will to make this work. Creating greater access to charging is really the number one measure that would help electric van operators to solve many of the operational issues that they face, and shared charging could massively increase the number of chargers available at a stroke. We do seem to be making strong progress.”

Research undertaken by the AFP in October that showed almost six out of 10 van fleets (58%) would consider sharing their depot or public charging infrastructure with others to make electrification more practical.

The shared charging committee can be contacted at [email protected].  If you would like to join the next meeting, please e-mail on this address.

Fleets are being urged by the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) to check that cars and vans are delivered with the correct registration plates.

The industry body has seen an apparent rise in the number of vehicles being mistakenly supplied with plates showing the wrong registration, or even with different plates on the front and rear.

Paul Hollick, chair at the industry body said: “We’re hearing from our members of an increasing incidence of this problem. It’s quite an easy thing for fleets to miss on delivery and there are reports of cars and vans driving around on the wrong plates for months or even years.

“In some cases, the error only comes to light when fleets find that the vehicle has been stopped by the police. Operators need to start identifying the problem earlier on by making their own checks on delivery.”

He said that the error was being made by manufacturers or dealers when the vehicle was being prepared for delivery.

“Really, this is something that should be picked up during the pre-delivery inspection but, from what we are hearing, this is happening less and less often. If a problem subsequently arises and there is a financial implication, there is then the question of who is to blame? Certainly, in those circumstances, dealers don’t seem too keen to take responsibility.”

Paul said that the issue was likely to be tackled in a revised version of the AFP’s Dealer Standard, designed to ensure that fleet cars and vans are delivered in excellent condition to the end user, who is then shown the fundamentals of how to operate the vehicle and treated courteously.

The original Dealer Standard has been pretty successful since it was launched in 2022, having been adopted by several major dealer groups, and we are looking to re-examine the document in the light of newer developments such as the registration plates issue.

“Certainly, there is a perception within the AFP that dealer relationships with fleets have probably worsened in recent times and could be improved. The Dealer Standard could play a useful role in changing this situation.”

Pushing back against “scare stories” about electric vehicles (EVs) is becoming a key task for fleet managers, according to the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).

Paul Hollick, chair at the industry body said that there was a flood of misinformation appearing in both traditional and social media.

“Sadly, it seems to have become quite popular to create scare stories about EVs – that they catch fire easily and cannot be extinguished, that they will all run out of power simultaneously in cold weather and block motorways, that they are more environmentally damaging than ICE cars and vans, that current models will be worthless in a matter of years, and more.

“Most recently, we’ve seen the case of a ‘runaway’ EV that the police had to bring to a stop using their own vehicles which appears to have been nothing of the sort, with the driver reportedly accused of fabricating the emergency.

“Of course, there are now hundreds of thousands of company car drivers happily using EVs who know that this stuff is largely nonsense or based only a few isolated instances, but there tend to be a handful of people in every organisation who will seize on these stories and share them with other employees.

“In most cases, there is nothing malicious about the actions of these people. They just don’t know much about EV technology, believe what they read online, and are subsequently fearful of scenarios involving EVs that are vanishingly unlikely to actually happen.”

Paul said that handling these objections were becoming a key task for fleet managers as they continued with the process of electrification.

“We’re talked quite a lot in recent times about how fleet managers have spent the last couple of years achieving easy wins in terms of EV adoption and we’re now into a phase that is a much more of a grind. That means tackling more difficult areas such as van electrification and building operations in more geographically remote areas.

“Part of this grind involves pushing back against EV misinformation. Fleet managers within the AFP are gathering and sharing EV facts and figures that they can use whenever one of these scare stories is raised by one or more employees. It’s become a process of reassurance.

“The overwhelming experience of most fleets is that once drivers start using EVs, they love them and few would return to an ICE vehicle. The objections tend to come from those with limited or no exposure. It’s not unknown for fleet managers who are successfully running hundreds of EVs to be solemnly warned by a colleague that electrification will never work.”

Paul said there was an assumption that the misinformation would decline over time as EVs became just more and more part of everyday life.

“However, there’s also a potential danger that we will see a few longer-term holdouts who will continue to believe EV conspiracy theories. In those instances, there is little that fleet managers can do other than present them with the facts. No doubt a century or more ago, there were people who stuck with horses rather than drive a Model T.”

Details have been confirmed for this year’s annual conference from the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP), with the main themes being chosen by the organisation’s members.

Taking place at The British Motor Museum, Gaydon, on Wednesday 15th May, it is expected to attract around 250 members and is sponsored by Enterprise Mobility.

Subjects covered have been nominated by AFP fleet managers and include new manufacturer entrants to the fleet sector, EV deployment in action, decarbonisation beyond electric vehicles, meeting challenges with costs and supply, how to handle pressure on bodyshops, repair networks and getting vehicles back on the road, insurers writing off vehicles due to repair delays and EV charger deployment.

There will also be a keynote speech from the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles and an awards ceremony for recent graduates from the AFP Academy. A live training activity will also form part of the event, concentrating on engaging drivers with road risk.

Paul Hollick, chair at the AFP, said: “This is just the third AFP conference but already it has become established as an essential part of the fleet industry calendar, attracting a large number of delegates who want to engage with the key topics of the moment.

“The aim of the day is to discuss a range of essential subjects that are facing fleet managers, with help and commentary from people who have been directly involved in those areas. The sector is perhaps facing a wider range of challenges than at any previous point – from electrification to repair delays and supply issues to rising costs. Many of these are not easy

to resolve but we are aiming to provide practical advice, based on real world experience, that will help those operating cars and vans to make incremental progress.

“Many leading AFP members will be taking part in presentations and panels, and we’ll be announcing the names of our speakers over the next few weeks. Certainly, there will be a huge amount of fleet management expertise and talent involved in the event.

“We’re also looking forward to making presentations to graduates of the AFP Academy. The breadth of training that we deliver has increased considerably in recent years and this moment is very much a celebration of those who have worked to enhance their skills using our resources.

“Finally, we’d like to thank Enterprise Mobility for their sponsorship. Support of this kind is what makes events such as the AFP Conference possible, and we’re very grateful for their involvement.”

Registration for the conference, which is open to all AFP members, is now open and can be found at https://www.theafp.co.uk/conference-2024/.

Public sector charging facilities could be opened up to provide new options to all fleets as they target electrification, the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) is suggesting.

Chair Paul Hollick said that some central and local government fleets were investing heavily in infrastructure to support their electric vehicles (EVs), and these could be made available in areas where private companies were having difficulty finding chargers.

“Our members are facing a range of charging issues, from identifying places where they can charge electric vans overnight, through to finding facilities in more remote areas where there is little or nothing in the way of public charging provision.

“There are certainly instances where we know that there are public sector chargers that could help to mitigate this problem and opening them up to wider usage could be a solution at a point in time when the UK’s charging structure is still very much a work-in-progress.”

Paul said that the idea was not without difficulties, and that booking and payment mechanisms would need to be created, but this would potentially be an easy win for the government in terms of encouraging electrification.

“The public sector fleets involved would need some form of priority in having access to the chargers, of course, but that is something that doesn’t seem to be insurmountable. It would just be a question of whether there is sufficient will to make it happen.

“It would certainly make sense if a private company was working in a remote area where there were few public chargers, but there were facilities at the local council or railway station.

“Of course, this could also be a small form of additional revenue at a point in time when many public sector bodies are suffering from financial cuts by getting the most out of their existing assets.”

Paul said that the AFP would talk to members about the idea and, if there was sufficient support, attempt to open a dialogue with relevant bodies.

“We recently created a new Shared Charging Committee that is looking at the viability of fleets creating reciprocal charging arrangements. This new idea would fit in very well with that overall approach.”

Carbon reporting is becoming a bigger part of everyday fleet management, says the Association of Fleet Professionals – with two significant developments in 2024 potentially impacting on fleets.

First is that some UK companies will be affected by the introduction last month of Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol emissions standards across the EU, which stipulate reporting for the first time across the entire value chain, including business travel. The UK government is consulting on whether to adopt similar, compulsory standards more widely here.

The second is the UK’s Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme phase three, which applies to large undertakings and their corporate groups. It will extend the amount of energy consumption on which they must report from 90% of each business’s carbon output under phase two to 95% later this year, something that could well affect fleets.

Paul Hollick, chair, said: “Both of these moves represent large and potentially complex reporting tasks and are part of a general environment governance trend that over time is affecting more and more businesses that operate vehicles. It is certainly becoming a more prominent topic of discussion within the AFP.

“The facts are that reporting of this type is a specialised area and one with which more and more fleets are having to become conversant over time, yet genuine expertise is not that common. It is certainly an area where some fleet managers are looking to plug gaps in their own skills, especially when it comes to greater familiarity with the metrics and reporting formats used, as well as how to gather appropriate data.”

He added that carbon reporting so far tended to affect larger and often multi-national fleets but there were signs that the measures would affect more businesses over time, not just on a potential statutory basis, but because larger customers were increasingly demanding it from a supply chain compliance point of view.

“Of course, fleets generally have a very good news story to tell here. With electrification, massive strides in decarbonisation have been made in recent years and there is a clear route mapped out for similar improvements in the future.

“However, in some instances, specific improvements need to be made, especially where fleets are tasked with meeting requirements to satisfy larger clients of their own businesses. This may especially affect commercial vehicle operations, where strides towards decarbonisation have so far been markedly slower than for cars.

“It certainly appears that this is going to be a growing area of fleet management, and one that is only going to become more of a day-to-day issue for our members.”

A better labelling system for the range of electric vans is becoming “critical to adoption”, says the Association of Fleet Professionals.

The organisation first highlighted the inadequacies of the existing WLTP figures last year and, says chair Paul Hollick, this winter has only made the problem more apparent.

“We’ve had reports during the last few weeks of operators of electric vans with a WLTP range of 200 miles seeing that number halve with a full load in cold conditions. That’s a reduction that is extremely difficult for fleet managers to work their way around in operational terms.

“Ultimately, it means that the official data designed to guide fleets towards making informed buying decisions is at best, inaccurate and, at worst, actively leads them to purchase the wrong vehicles. These are very expensive mistakes for businesses to be making.”

Paul said that WLTP labelling for vans needed to cover not just a load-free vehicle in warm conditions but a variety of payload and weather variations.

“Ideally, we’d end up with a grid that perhaps showed how vans operated with no load, a medium load and a full load in warm, normal and cold conditions. Also, it would be useful to know something about towing capacity. This is not a complex or onerous request but a fundamental one bearing in mind the technology.

“Ultimately, having an accurate idea of how electric vans will perform in real world conditions is critical to their adoption. Fleet managers can’t make buying decisions without having a good indication of range. Instead, they are coming into work on cold mornings and finding that the routes they had planned are unviable, sometimes creating huge difficulties.”

Paul added that it was important to underline that many fleets were operating electric vans without issue because their operational needs were less demanding.

“If you’re allocating electric vans with a light load to local routes, then you are unlikely to encounter any problems, and we have many members in that position for whom electrification is proving relatively easy. However, if you have bought a van with a 200 mile range because you need a 200 mile range, then the WLTP figures can be actively misleading and you could acquire a vehicle that just doesn’t meet your requirements.

“What we need to happen is for the WLTP standard for electric vans to change but the agreement is made at a United Nations level, so bringing that pressure to bear is extraordinarily difficult, especially in a short timeframe. Perhaps there is potential for the UK to introduce its own labelling system alongside WLTP but this also appears to be a long shot.

“However, what is abundantly clear is that the existing WLTP range figures for electric vans are not fit for purpose and are acting as a potential roadblock to adoption. It’s a situation that benefits no-one – not manufacturers, not fleets, and not governments who want to see rapid adoption of zero emissions vehicles.”