Propelling the EV transition in 2024

Guest Editor: Paul Holland, Managing Director for UK/ANZ Fleet, FLEETCOR, including UK brand Allstar

In global societies there is a knowledge and a need to be acting sustainably, for the good of the planet and for the futures of everyone involved. Within this context we have transport and mobility, a vital sector but one not without its sustainability challenges. Paul Holland, MD of UK Fleet, Fleetcor, including UK brand Allstar provides a global picture of countries that are transitioning to EV and what’s needed in order to propel the EV transition in 2024. 

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Originally built on a platform of fossil fuels, increasingly alternative fuels and the move to electrify has driven both national and business strategies. So much so that at the recent COP 28 conference a new deal was agreed at the UN climate summit in Dubai after days of negotiations. For the first time, the deal calls on all countries to move away from using fossil fuels – but not to phase them out, something many governments wanted. 

It remains to be seen what the repercussions are from this announcement but the essence of the move away is not new. If I take a laser focus on the UK for example, our nation has made great strides in the introduction and adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). 

In fact, with increasing consumer demand and the greater availability of electric models, the number of electric cars in the UK is growing at a rapid rate.

According to data from Allstar’s partner Zapmap, there are now more than 950,000 fully electric cars on UK roads and a further 570,000 plug-in hybrids – as of the end of November 2023. The broader global challenge lies in the fact that all countries are transitioning at a different pace.

In Europe, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published a report in October that noted Germany, France and Norway together accounted for about 64% of all new EV registrations among the EU-27 and non-EU EEA countries. Norway had the highest number of new BEVs registered in 2022, accounting for 79% of new car sales. That figure has risen further to ~90% in 2023. While in the US momentum is also building nicely with EVs accounting for approximately 6.5% of new vehicle sales in the first half of 2023, according to a new report by the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) and it’s being lead by California.

With this rate of change varying by region and nation, it places more of an emphasis on the technology and solutions needed for drivers to manage the transition to electric, which is far more complex than fuel. Development and improvement of infrastructure, chargepoints, home charging solutions, as well as the vehicles themselves are improving all the time but there is still some way to go before we’re ‘there.’ 

This responsibility falls on many stakeholders and we count ourselves in that bracket.

We take our role and position as a market leader seriously, which is why I’m proud of what we’ve developed and still excited about where we can go. In developing the UK’s only solution that allows fleet and business electric vehicles to be charged at home and on the road, we’re reducing the need for separate transactions, separate suppliers, and offering our customers a single monthly invoice for all their fuel and EV spend. We know that many businesses will be operating mixed fleets (electric and fuel), so we give them ultimate flexibility across their total fuel and charging expense. 

That’s what we’re doing but the government has a vital role to play to drive the use and future incentivisation of EV to businesses – the first is around support to lower the price of fuel. Whether fleets use petrol, diesel, electricity or, as is increasingly likely, a combination of all of the above, they are all reporting that the prices they pay at the plug or pump are eating away at their profits. 

I also feel that our infrastructure still needs support.

Despite the huge rise in the number of EV charging points in the UK, there is less support for alternative fuels, which can significantly improve the sustainability of the UK’s fleets, especially those that use HGVs that cannot use electric charging. 

Finally, there needs to be extra support for smaller fleets: although a significant number of larger fleets are already using EVs, smaller companies often lack the ready cash to buy EVs. These smaller fleets make up a significant number of the vehicles on the road, so giving them incentives to be more flexible with the kinds of vehicles they use would make them more competitive and drive growth.

This kind of joined up strategy and development is what will propel all societies towards a more sustainable future.

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