White electric car plugged into charge point

How can Fleet Managers deal with electric vehicle range limitations?

With the need to adopt the use of electric vehicles increasing each year, so does the need to consider how fleet management will be affected.

Fleet managers have been overseeing petrol and diesel vehicles for decades. This new type of vehicle, however, comes with a whole new list of challenges.

Why should fleets make the change to electric vehicles?

Firstly, the UK government are planning to ban the production and sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in 2030. As a result, we can expect to see a huge increase in the use of electric vehicles by the end of the decade.

Depending on your location, making the change to electric vehicles can have financial benefits. The Ultra Low Emission Zone in London now means that any vehicle not meeting the emissions standard will have to pay. This can be a charge of up to £100 depending on the size of your vehicle. The range of this zone is set to expand, as well as similar zones being introduced in other cities such as Birmingham and Glasgow.

A sudden transition to electric vehicles could put a strain on fleet management. Therefore, one might consider a slow changeover. Swap out your fossil fuel burning vehicles in favour of electric vehicles slowly over the next few years. This would not only mean you are prepared for the future, but will also have time to adapt to the challenges that come with managing a fleet of electric vehicles.

What should fleet managers be aware of?

At this point in time, a newer electric car might get you between 200-300 miles before it needs recharging. Older cars will of course give you less range. This anxiety about the lack of range is usually cited as the main reason for not making the transition.

When combined with the fact that there are limited charging points in the UK, this can be a real cause of worry for fleet managers.

However, both of these factors are set to improve in the coming years. Battery technology is constantly developing; we’re seeing increased capacities each year.

Furthermore, you can expect to see more charging points across the country. Companies such as Allstar are working to make recharging electric vehicles as convenient as possible with over 1500 locations in their UK network.

Row of white cars being charged in car park

How can fleet managers adapt to range limitations?

The most sensible decision a fleet manager can make to prepare for the electric revolution is to acquire an electric fuel card.

With a fuel card, your fleet could be managed with great efficiency. Cards such as the Allstar One Electric offer the same benefits as a regular fuel card. This card (along with similar cards offered by BP and Shell) allows you to pay for petrol and diesel as well. For fleets making a slow transition to zero-emission vehicles, this removes any anxiety managers might have about having to keep track of two separate accounts.

You would be given access to one invoice, meaning you don’t need to keep hold of receipts. The spending of each driver in your fleet could be easily monitored.

Suppliers of electric fuel cards are continuing to add more charging stations to their network, and finding charging points for your fleet would be easier than ever with some great charging point locator apps on the market. As with fuel, it is important to plan your drivers’ journeys with charging stations in mind.

With the range limitations of electric vehicles being a primary concern, knowing that your fuel card will help you manage the charging of your fleet can alleviate a lot of stress.

What else should you know about electric vehicles?

When managing a fleet of electric vehicles, there are other aspects to consider that will affect their range.

Do your research before committing to a specific vehicle. The advertised range may be exaggerated as it was tested in ideal conditions. If the stated range of a vehicle is 200 miles on a single charge, be safe and assume it is closer to 150. As your fleet uses these vehicles, you will become more accustomed to their range capabilities and can make adjustments accordingly.

Chargers

Different charging stations will offer different types of chargers. New variants, such as the Ultra-Rapid DC charger, are able to recharge electric vehicles to 80% in 20 minutes depending on the vehicle. When planning your fleet’s route, consider which stations provide access to the quickest chargers. It might be efficient to go slightly off route to charge quickly than to stay on course and charge at a point that takes up to 2 hours to charge.

Weather conditions

When planning your fleet’s journeys, it pays to be mindful of the weather. A colder battery is more resistant to charging, so will take longer. Of course, UK weather does not make this an easy task, but allocating more charging time during the winter months is a sensible practice to get into.

Battery drainage

White electric car charging at charging point

The rate at which an electric vehicle’s battery will drain depends on multiple factors. Ensure that your drivers are aware of how efficient driving can improve their range. Softer breaking and consistent, lower speeds will help maintain charge. Economy modes are available in some models, but this often comes at the cost of acceleration.

Conservative use of accessories such as air conditioning or heating will reduce drainage. Heating the interior of the car whilst still plugged in is a good option; the driver can maintain comfort without draining precious power.

Eventually, your fleet of electric vehicles will need their batteries replaced. They lose capacity over time just like a phone battery. Some car batteries could last for up to 10 years, but vehicles in constant use like taxis or buses would need their batteries replaced in half the time.

Armed with this information, fleet managers can combat the range limitations of their vehicles. As electric vehicle technology continues to improve, so too will they become easier to manage. To find out more about how you can improve your electric vehicle management, get in contact with our team for expert advice.

 

A car parks alongside a petrol pump with a variety of options

Top 4 fuel choices for your fleet – which is right for you?

When you’re operating a fleet, keeping costs as low as possible is a key consideration if you’re going to turn a profit. And one of the main costs for any road-based business is always fuel.

However, it’s important to remember that fuel is a controllable expense, not one that simply needs to burn through money. In order to boost efficiency, you’ll want to ensure that you’re always using the best types of fuel for your business needs.

But how will you know which is the best choice if you’re thinking of upgrading your vehicles? Let’s take a look at the four main options currently available.

Petrol

Petrol vehicles have typically been the most popular on Britain’s roads, largely because they’re the cheapest to both buy and refuel. They are also getting greener thanks to the addition of features like turbochargers and fewer cylinders.

However, they can be prone to overheating and they still emit unburned hydrocarbons, particulates and carbon monoxide from their exhausts. This meant that when emissions first began to be used as a factor in taxes paid on company cars, many businesses opted to switch to diesel.

Diesel

A high proportion of fleet owners have traditionally opted for diesel vehicles, with brands such as Transit having built reputations for solidity and reliability. They usually have a longer lifespan and can actually offer better fuel consumption than petrol engines.

Indeed, diesel vehicles can use up to 30 per cent less fuel and emit 20 per cent less carbon dioxide than their petrol counterparts. However, they unfortunately emit far more exhaust particulate matter, particularly nitrous oxide. This can penetrate the human lungs due to its respirable size.

With research linking air pollution to thousands of deaths per year in built-up areas, this is undoubtedly a concern. Diesel shouldn’t be written off just yet, though, as carmakers are fighting back. New tech such as filters and additives aim to remove the dangerous particles before they are pumped into the atmosphere.

Hybrid

Hybrid vehicles are powered using a combination of a petrol or diesel engine and an electric battery, with the battery recharged while the vehicle is driven or through braking. Plug-in hybrids can also be charged from an external power supply.

This type of vehicle is becoming ever-more popular among fleet owners, as they can cut carbon dioxide emissions by as much as a quarter compared to petrol. Meanwhile, Which? research suggests petrol-hybrids are the most reliable type of engine.

However, range can still be an issue if longer trips are required, with hybrids most suited to shorter journeys around urban areas due to battery limitations.

All-electric

Electric car at charging point with digital graphic overlay

With no fossil fuel-based engine at all, all-electric vehicles (EVs) are powered purely with a battery and an electric motor. That means they’re about as green as you can get – zero emissions whatsoever are emitted while driving, plus they can usually be charged up from a standard power point (although super-fast charging may require dedicated infrastructure).

Fleet owners could also enjoy the added benefits of fewer moving parts meaning lower costs in areas such as servicing in the long term.

As with hybrid vehicles, distance per battery charge can still be a drawback when it comes to EVs, but this is something that is improving all the time. Manufacturers such as Tesla now boast EVs that can comfortably last more than 200 miles, meaning most fleet drivers should be covered without having to stop for more juice.

Assessing what you’ll need

The best way to work out which of the above is best for your fleet is to take a look at your current performance, define where you want to be and then look for opportunities for improvement.

Ask yourself:

  • Who is travelling and how often?
  • How far are your fleet drivers going?
  • What type of environment are they travelling in?
  • How important are your green credentials?

This should provide insight into which vehicle and fuel choice (or combination) is best for your particular circumstances.

How fuel cards can help

If you’re keen to collect more information about the fuel your fleet is currently using, a great option could be to issue fuel cards. You may already have seen these on garage forecourts, with companies that use Shell fuel, for example, able to pay with a Shell card.

Drivers simply charge the cost of fuel to their employer’s account and the final bills are paid monthly in arrears.

They are beneficial in this case as most fuel cards will issue economy reports as part of their service, which can then be used to analyse consumption and easily see where improvements can be made.

Other benefits of fuel cards include:

  • Discounts on purchases
  • Ability to separate business and personal mileage
  • Reduction in administration
  • More secure in the event of theft
  • Incentive to drivers to cover fewer miles and drive more economically

Environment a bigger part of public policy

A smiling man driving a van gives a thumbs up

With green issues now a key focus for the government, it may be that we will all soon be required to make more environmentally-friendly choices when it comes to what we’re driving.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that there needs to be a 50 per cent reduction in global emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2050, while the UK government has set even more ambitious targets of 80 per cent.

Electrification of car and van fleets is being seen as a big part of this, although much criticism has been aimed at ministers for failing to have a true masterplan for the decarbonisation of transport.

For instance, the Committee on Climate Change said it wants to see greater incentives for commercial fleets to buy more efficient vehicles, which may include tax breaks and better charging infrastructure for HGVs.

Which fuel is best for you?

In the meantime, with petrol and diesel vehicle sales set to continue on top of the other options until 2030, the choice of fuel essentially remains down to the fleet manager.

However, by taking into account the business requirements, lifecycle costs, data monitoring and environmental concerns detailed above, you should hopefully now have a better idea about what fuel choice would be best for your fleet. Contact us to find out more about fuel types and which fuel card would work best for you.

Calculating taxes with coins, calculator and toy car

Do company drivers save money by claiming for private fuel?

For drivers of company cars, it is possible to have their employers pay for their private fuel. However, the number of drivers making use of this benefit has been declining in recent years.

When drivers use their company car for personal use, they accumulate private miles. This mileage could be quite small, however if the driver were to use the vehicle in multiple cross-country journeys over the year, their private miles would add up extensively.

Therefore, having your private fuel paid for by your employer may seem like a great deal. Despite this, however, there is a reason drivers are choosing to simply reimburse their employers for the fuel instead.

Car Fuel Benefit Charge

Whether your employer pays for all of your fuel or not, you will already be paying tax for your company car. This amount depends on the specific vehicle and engine, the listed price when new, and the CO2 emissions measured in grams per kilometre (g/km).

This is referred to as the benefit in kind charge, and is added to your taxable income for the year. Online calculators are available to work out how much tax you’ll be paying for your specific company car.

When your employer covers your private fuel, you become subject to an additional tax – the Car Fuel Benefit Charge.

This extra charge can negate any benefits of having your employer pay for your fuel, depending on the type of car and your usage.

For example, imagine you are doing 4400 private miles in a diesel car with CO2 emissions of 100g/km. As a basic rate tax payer (20%) In 2021, you would be paying £1,377.60 in tax for this benefit, whilst the value of the free fuel you have used would be just over £645. In this example, having your employer pay for your private fuel is financially detrimental.

In fact, in this vehicle, you would have to be doing over 9396 private miles just to break even. This is potentially very unrealistic. In 2019, the average UK driver was only doing 4400 private miles.

Silver coins stacked in front of grey toy car

Reimbursing your employer

These figures show that the only way to financially benefit from your employer paying for your fuel is by doing enough private mileage, so the overall cost of your used fuel is greater than the Car Fuel Benefit Charge.

The alternative would be to reimburse your employer for any fuel used during your private mileage. By doing so, one would eliminate the Car Fuel Benefit Charge.

You’ll need to monitor your private mileage over the year to calculate how much you should be repaying your employer. You can do this by keeping your receipts, but keeping track of this is easier with a fuel card account.

Multiply your mileage by the HMRC’s advisory fuel rate for your vehicle. Assuming the engine size of your vehicle is between 1601cc to 2000cc, that rate is 11p per mile in 2021.

By multiplying this rate with the average UK private mileage gives us a cost of £484 to be reimbursed to the employer.

This is instead of paying £1377.60 in car fuel benefit charge, and saving £827 in the process.

Few company car drivers claim private fuel

As of 2020, only 12% of company car drivers were receiving the benefit of having all of their fuel paid for by their employer. This figure has been falling over the last decade. In 2010/11, 250,000 drivers were having their fuel paid for by their employer, costing a total of £360 million in tax. By 2018/19, only 110,000 drivers were receiving these benefits.

This is likely due to the higher than average number of private miles required by the driver to break even. Also, rising fuel prices would have encouraged drivers to evaluate their situation more carefully. They might have noticed that their savings were being nullified by the Car Fuel Benefit Charge.

If you are one of the 12% that still claim private fuel, consider using the above calculations. You can determine whether you could be saving money by simply reimbursing your employer instead.

To find out more about how your company could be making great savings on fuel, get in touch with our team – we’re happy to help.

Electric car at charging point with digital graphic overlay

What are the implications of accelerating the shift to zero emissions?

The UK’s shift to a low-carbon economy is well underway. Yet amid concerns that original plans weren’t ambitious enough, it’s now clear that the pace of this change is accelerating. This means businesses have less time than they may think to adapt their operations to the new way of thinking.

This will affect many aspects of how firms operate, but one particular focus will be on their transport operations. Fleets will have to start moving toward a low or even zero emission future quickly. If they don’t, they risk falling foul of new rules, being left behind by competitors, or facing large additional costs.

The coming changes to the UK’s transport network

The UK’s transportation network will be at the heart of the drive to a carbon-neutral future. According to government figures, the transport sector accounted for 27 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. What’s more, 90 per cent of this came from road traffic, so it’s clear this will have to be a top priority when developing a low-carbon economy.

That’s why the government is bringing forward plans to move toward electric cars. It’s committed to banning the sale of any new fully petrol or diesel vehicles by 2030 – a decade earlier than previously expected. While some hybrid models will still be allowed after this date, these too are expected to be phased out by 2035. While for now, second-hand sales are unaffected, it will mean fleet buyers have to rethink their plans.

At the same time, the use of low-emission zones in many towns and cities is also set to become more commonplace. If you’re still relying on a heavily petrol and diesel-based fleet, this could mean it becomes prohibitively expensive to operate in urban areas in the coming years. Therefore, you’ll need to have at least some of your fleet using low or zero-emission vehicles to avoid this.

Do you need a zero-emissions fleet?

Close up of an electric car charger with female in the background

If you’re planning on buying new vehicles after 2030, you won’t have any choice but to go electric or hybrid. But you shouldn’t be waiting until this date to make plans for a zero emission future. Firms that run electric vehicles (EVs) can already take advantage of reduced running costs, lower emissions and a better reputation among customers.

Many larger brands are recognising the benefits of a zero-emissions approach to their fleets. Parcel delivery firm DPD, for example, which runs a large fleet of vans, added over 700 EVs to its fleet in 2020. This means more than ten per cent of its vehicles are now electric. By 2025, the firm aims to reduce its final-mile emission by 89 per cent, using EVs only for 25 of the UK’s largest towns and cities.

Chief executive of the firm Dwain McDonald said: “We know retail customers want this and the reaction on the doorstep is great when recipients see that their parcel has been delivered emission-free too. So, that is a great base for us to build on.”

It’s clear, therefore, that if companies want to keep customer satisfaction high, adopting a zero emissions goal for their fleets will be essential. They will also have to do this sooner rather than later – not just to meet regulations, but to keep up with competitors.

The challenges of moving to electric vehicles

Of course, moving to an all-electric fleet is easier said than done. There will be a range of challenges involved in this, and it’s not something you should be attempting to do all at once.

Among the questions you’ll have to answer when adopting these vehicles are:

  • Where and how will these vehicles be recharged?
  • How do you reimburse drivers for electricity usage?
  • Will employees have to change their driving styles to use EVs efficiently?
  • Should you install dedicated charging points – and if so, how much will these cost?
  • Will drivers be resistant to EVs?
  • Will you have to alter your route planning to take into account charging points?

With careful planning and communication with employees, many of these issues can be overcome. And the sooner businesses start thinking about this, the better placed they’ll be when EVs are the norm.

One issue will be charging speeds. Traditionally, ‘refuelling’ EVs with power is a much lengthier process than dropping onto a forecourt for a couple of minutes. But this is beginning to change. Charging technology is improving all the time and fuel brands are also starting to focus more closely on this area.

BP Pulse for example, recently announced a new partnership with The EV Network that will greatly expand its fast-charging infrastructure. The company is aiming to have 16,000 charge points by 2030, with a particular priority placed on ultra-fast chargers.

Managing a mixed fleet

Close-up of a row of parked commercial vans

Another challenge will be how you manage a mixed fleet of petrol, diesel and electric vehicles. This can be especially challenging when it comes to managing the expenses associated with keeping cars on the road.

However, there are an increasing number of solutions available to help with this. For example, more companies are developing electric fuel cards that can help fleet managers keep control of their EV cars and vans. In the coming years, these will be essential for many businesses in ensuring their employees can keep their electric cars ready for whatever the business demands of them.

Shell, for example, has introduced a new EV card that can be used at any of its Recharge points throughout the UK. There are currently over 100 of these, but the brand is aiming to have more than 5,000 such charging stations operational by 2025.

Having fuel cards that offer cost savings and ease of use for all vehicles in a fleet, whether these are petrol, diesel, hybrid or full electric, will be a key priority for many businesses in the coming years. With an EV-first environment closer than many firms think, they will have to plan now for the future.

If you want to know more about how to incorporate electric cars into your operations, get in touch with Fuel Card Services today for expert advice.