Plan for switching to electric vehicles and e-cycles

Even with high electricity prices it makes sense to consider switching your fleet to electric vehicles (EVs).

Battery and hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) now make up more than half of all new cars sold and fully electric car sales have risen by 70% in the last year, now representing 1 in 6 new cars joining UK roads.

While running costs have recently become closer to fuel-powered vehicles, in most cases EVs could save SMEs time and money in the long run.

If you use logistics services, visit our section on supply chains for guidance on using green providers.

Contents

  1. Incentives to electrify your fleet
  2. When you will need to upgrade your fleet
  3. Create a fleet upgrading plan
  4. Find finance and support

Incentives to electrify your fleet

According to the GOV.UK 2035 delivery plan (PDF), it is predicted that before 2030 it will cheaper for your business to use electric vehicles (EVs) than fossil fuel vehicles on the total cost of ownership (otherwise known as whole life costs, or WLCs).

Other benefits include:

1. Energy-efficiency: energy use (MWh) may be up to 75% less than the equivalent petrol or diesel fleet.

2. Lower emissions: electric cars currently emit on average 3 times less carbon dioxide (CO2) than their petrol or diesel equivalent after factoring in emissions from electricity generation, car and battery production.

3. Improved air quality through reduced tailpipe emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter.

4. Lower servicing and maintenance costs, typically 40% less, compared to petrol or diesel as EVs are mechanically simpler.

For example, cost savings on reduced wear and tear on brakes due to regenerative braking.

5. Exemption from charges for vehicles that do not meet the emissions and safety standards. These include:

6. Tax incentives and grants including:

For more information on how green EVs are compared to diesel and petrol vehicles, visit Energy Saving Trust’s ‘How green are electric vehicles?’.

When you will need to upgrade your fleet

SMEs will eventually need to electrify their fleets or find alternate modes of transport.

Getting started on the transition as soon as possible makes sense to stay ahead of regulations and avoid a rushed transition.

Cars and vans

From 2035 there will be no new sales of fossil fuel-only cars and vans.

You will still be able to use a fossil fuel-powered car or van after 2035 and these vehicles will continue to be available on the second-hand market.

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)

The current policy is to phase out sales of new non-zero-emissions HGVs weighing 26 tonnes and under by 2035, with all new HGVs sold in the UK to be zero-emission by 2040.

Check the capacity of your electrical system if your business needs to charge multiple vehicles. This can take time to upgrade if needed.

Visit Energy Networks Association to find out more.

Create a fleet upgrading plan

You should plan for upgrading your fleet. Include data about:

  • what and when you need to upgrade
  • current use and costs
  • when and how to charge efficiently
  • alternative transport

Work out the costs and benefits of electric vehicles (EVs)

Consider your current and future transport needs to calculate EV costs and benefits, as well as:

  • what EV options exist for the type of vehicles needed
  • where and when they will charge vehicles
  • the potential need and lead time for electrical upgrades
  • operational requirements of their vehicles
  • how they will use their vehicles and what load they will carry
  • software that can help drivers optimise range and driving efficiency

Use Energy Saving Trust’s EV fleet guide for more advice.

Complete a mileage audit

Complete a mileage audit to help you:

  • decide which EVs are right for your business
  • set a standard to measure against
  • decide when you might need to replace your fleet
  • decide if you if your fleet can be switched to EVs

You can export annual data about how much you drive and for what reasons if you have a driving telematics system:

  • total yearly mileage
  • individual vehicle and driver mileage
  • the length and purpose of trips

You can look at manual mileage entries, fuel card reports or odometer readings if you don’t have an automated system.

Use Energy Saving Trust’s ‘Fleet Health Check’ to get started.

Consider ‘whole life cost’

You should think about the lifetime price of a vehicle in pence per mile (the whole life cost or WLC) if you own vehicles.

Your WLC takes into account:

  • fuel and charging costs
  • lease rate or purchase cost
  • service and repair costs
  • tax savings and discounts
  • residual value and insurance costs

According to the report by the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles, ‘Common Misconceptions about Electric Vehicles’ (PDF), EVs have a better WLC than an equivalent petrol or diesel vehicle because they:

  • need less maintenance and repairs
  • don’t carry the same taxes that petrol and diesel cars do

They are also exempt from some local charges, such as London’s ULEZ and, until 2025, EVs are exempt from the Congestion charge.

Compare energy input costs

You can use the RAC’s ‘charge watch’ tool to compare the average running cost of electric cars compared to fuel-powered cars.

The cost of charging depends on:

  • the price you pay for electricity
  • whether you charge at home or at work
  • when you charge – you might pay less for charging at off-peak times

Visit our energy page for more details on ‘smart charging’ tariffs.

Plan for efficient charging of electric vehicles

EV ranges and charge times will continue to improve over time but you can check how to best make use of vehicle charging for your business.

This includes:

  • the average length and frequency of trips
  • when and where vehicles can be idle for charging
  • how fast a vehicle can charge

Use the Electric Vehicle Database to find ranges and charging times of electric cars and vans.

Work out driving range and charging time of electric vehicles

According to Transport for London, electric cars and commercial vans have a real-world driving range of between 100 and 300 miles on a single full charge.

How long it takes to charge your vehicle depends on:

  • the amount of electricity available at a charge point
  • the EV’s battery size

There are three main charging options for EV drivers – slow, fast and rapid charging. They are measured in kilowatts (kW), reflecting the speed at which they can charge an EV

Slow charging (Level 1) can be an ideal option if vehicles sit idle during the work day or overnight,

Fast chargepoints (Level 2) are the most common type of EV charger in the UK, and are at least three times faster than slow chargers.

Rapid and ultra-rapid chargepoints (Level 3) offer the fastest charging of your electric vehicle, but are more expensive. They are usually located near motorway services.

Find out more about government grants to help with installing chargepoints.

Consider cargo bikes

For ‘last mile’ deliveries for lighter freight, consider switching to electrically-assisted cargo bikes. These can be charged using the typical electrical outlets at your home or workplace.

Visit Energy Saving Trust for more guidance on switching to e-cargo bikes.

Consider e-cycles

You can encourage your staff to use e-cycles. E-cycles are much cheaper to charge than an EV and you do not need to upgrade your electricity supply.

Upgrading from a regular cycle to an e-cycle enables employees to cover longer distances, more quickly and with less effort.

Find finance and support

Take part in the UK Net Zero Business Census
Take part in the UK Net Zero Business Census