You can reap the rewards of electric vehicles – but only if you act now!Carlos Montero
When considering different mobility solutions, cost, ease and efficiency must be at the forefront of a business decision. Workplace pressures constantly evolve and there is no single, one-size-fits-all solution.
For almost 60 years now, the car has been considered just that and today, it is still our go-to-solution. But there is increasing scrutiny on this favoured mode of transport. For example, recent emissions scandals and a constant focus on air quality, especially in cities, are adding to cost and efficiency pressures.
Manufacturers have responded to these issues, bringing pure electric, hybrid and plug-in vehicles to market. For the first time in recent history, these are becoming viable and fleets and businesses are embracing the technology. There are still issues, such as the lack of a fast-charging infrastructure but, like the technology it supports, they are developing rapidly.
The convenience of the car allied to incentives such as lower BIK rates, the Plug-in Car Grant, and zero road tax for vehicles producing emissions up to and including 100g/km of CO2, will continue to keep the car at the forefront of fleet decisions and the favoured option. For the time being at least.
When it comes to forward planning, it is important that businesses consider the bigger mobility picture. From a cost and efficiency perspective, there are financial and practical pressures on every method of transport, with some coming from external, non-related factors.
Constant developments in technology, for example, allow teleconferencing and video calling, both from the office and on the move. This can save fleets both time and money by only travelling when necessary, which could lead to usage of the car decreasing. Face-to-face meetings are, however, still preferred by many.
There is always the option of public transport. Rail allows employees to work on the move, and this is an attractive alternative, especially for longer journeys. However, rail transport is only cost-effective when booked in advance, and it can leave employees with further connections. This can be an expensive complicated issue, especially for those predominantly based in rural areas.
For extremely long journeys, air travel could provide an easier (and sometimes cheaper) option, although additional costs could arise from aforementioned connections. This advocates use of the car, taking advantage of its door-to-door, on demand capabilities. Increased access to alternatively fuelled vehicles on car sharing and instant rental schemes within a city provide an alternative option to multiple changes and connections.
Weighing up the pros and cons, cars remain an attractive, strong choice, especially when alternative fuel and electric vehicles allow companies to keep to existing operating structures, whilst enabling them to take advantage of various cost savings. However, simply shifting to alternative fuel vehicles shouldn’t be considered the sole solution, especially when technology and legislation continues to develop rapidly and there are alternative means of transport available.
As more people and businesses embrace more alternative fuel vehicles, it is inevitable that the Government’s attitude to how these are taxed will change; Ministers can’t afford not to. With cost savings available, alternatively-fuelled vehicles will continue to grow in popularity and the car remain our favoured mode of transport, but only while taxation remains relatively low.
When taxation structures and costs do change, companies will have to reconsider the alternatives to alternative-fuelled vehicles, and look towards other modes of transport. For now, there are rewards and cost savings available for those who embrace alternative fuel vehicles, but this is by no-means a permanent or solus solution.