The Race to Net Zero: How Electric Vehicles Can Help
Electric vehicles or EVs are touted as providing a solution, in part, towards a net zero society; significantly they are far cleaner to runin terms of emissions (they do not produce CO2 exhaust emissions, unlike traditional petrol and diesel vehicles).
To put this into context, FuelIncluded.com suggest that “One electric car on the roads for one year (in place of a traditional vehicle) saves an average of 1.5 million grams of CO2 –the equivalent of four return flights from London to Barcelona.”[i] It is estimated by the RAC that as of 2021, there are now 330,000 purely electric cars (or Battery Electric Vehicles [BEVs]) on the UK’s roads.
This increases to 1,350,000 if we include Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV) and traditional hybrids[ii]. This equates to 3.4% of the 40 million vehicles registered in the UK, according to SMMT. As such, the if the above removal of 1.5 million grams of CO2 per vehicle, were to be replicated across the UK’s vehicles, considerable carbon reduction would be made.
With the UK government proposing a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars & vans by 2030, there are significant challenges ahead; how are businesses approaching these?
Meeting the Challenges in Switching
There are several barriers to adoption of purely electric vehicles. One of the most significant is the infrastructure around charging points. Most individuals do not have a home charging point installed, and these require off-road parking or allocated spaces, immediately cutting off a large segment of the populace.
Given “an estimated 54% of non-residential parking occurs at the workplace where layover is around 4-8 hours daily [iii] there is opportunity for businesses to offer on premises charging for theire mployees.
There is also likely to be additional pressure put on the national grid not only with the increase in BEVs but also in the development of peak recharging times.
Incentives for Both Employer & Employee
The UK government are offering incentives for companies in the drive towards electric, as Pod-Point (ref) explain “The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) is a grant that businesses can use to reduce the cost of installing electric vehicle charge points for their staff by up to £14,000:
- The WCS grant is capped at £350 per charge point socket (up to 40 sockets per applicant business)
- It's available to any business, charity or public authority, with some conditions.
- The grant is provided by the government Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV)”[i]
Further, helping their employees switch will help businesses become more environmentally friendly themselves and reduce their overall carbon footprint.
It also means this can help attract new employees; as we see the switch-over progress, the provision and access to charging services will be more important to potential employees.
For those businesses who cannot offer charging onsite, one suggestion is to provide credit for employees to use public chargers, especially where the vehicle is company property being used for business operations.
When we consider those companies which rely on a fleet of vehicles for their day-to-day operations, such as utilities providers, delivery services etc, the provision of electric vehicles could have a significant positive benefit on their carbon footprint.
One such company which is looking to make the switch, and quickly, is British Gas. The business runs one of the largest fleets in the UK, with over 12,000 vehicles on the road, and it has committed to its fleet being all electric by 2025, five years ahead of the current government guidelines.
The business has already taken stock of 1,000 electric vehicles, with a further 2,000 set to be in use by next year.
Source: British Gas
Outlook & Major Pledges
Whilst the switch to electric vehicles is a key feature in tackling emissions and reducing our carbon footprint, there are several hurdles yet to clear. Further work is needed to address residential charging issues, whereby a lack of infrastructure will ultimately harm uptake of vehicles.
Workplaces offering charging facilities is certainly one step towards combating this, alongside workplace benefits such as credits given towards the cost of charging fleet vehicles using public facilities.
Moving forwards, the UK government announced the Rapid Charging Fund in March 2020, as part of a £500 million commitment for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Currently, a driver is never further than 25 miles away from a rapid charge point anywhere along England’s motorways and major A roads, however this will continue to fall as more locations and charging points come on line. Additionally, energy providers are increasingly offering services to both help reduce the burden on energy supplies, as well as the cost of charging via agile tariffs (such as that offered by Octopus) which encourage charging late at night/early morning through lower energy costs.
[i] How Can Switching to an Electric Vehicle Help the Planet? - Electric vehicle news by Fuel Included
[ii] The road to electric - the UK's adoption of electric cars in charts and data | RAC Drive
[iii] Workplace-EV-charging-Policy-V2.pdf (cleanairpartnership.org)
[iv] Workplace Charging Scheme | Pod Point (pod-point.com)
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