During 2009 the British government committed to electric cars. When they are available on the market car buyers will be offered a £2000-£5000 subsidy to encourage them to buy plug-in electric cars. It is part of the government’s overall plan to promote environmentally friendly transport as well as becoming a world leader in the production of these cars. From a fleet’s perspective it is predicted that running costs will be at least 20% lower with fleet insurance costs being down also.
TV Presenter and motoring journalist Tom Ford compares our current opinion of these first generation electric cars with the brick-like mobiles of the 1980s. So look at the phone you have now? It has a billion times more processing power, twenty times of battery life and of course looks much smaller, slimmer and sexier these days. The EV (Electric Vehicle) Industry is predicted to have a similar technological acceleration.
So why are all these electric cars starting to appear now? Investment in green technologies has become a big priority as well as the environmental considerations which mean that more people are actively seeking green cars. Manufacturers are now producing EVs which are lighter, go further and perform more like a normal car.
Even over the past 18 months there have been significant improvements. Tom Ford test drove the original electric Smart-the Fortwo EV-18 months ago and at that stage it only managed less than 20 miles from a full charge. Now however the new Smart can be 80% charged in about 3½ hours. It can go further up to about 85 miles and is also fitted with batteries which can last for eight years rather than for just three years.
Taking Nissan as another example, they have doubled the potential mileage of their EVs over the last six months, even before the Nissan Leaf has been launched. Now there are some electric cars with ranges of 150 miles whereas the average commuter needs’ are an 80 mile range, accounting for 70% of total commuting needs.
Nissan has also announced something which makes the changeover for SME fleets more attractive. There was concern over the lifespan of the batteries but Nissan have announced that they will lease the batteries on its all electric Nissan Leaf. This way they retain ownership of the batteries. Also the use of lithium-ion batteries means that the life expectancy of the battery is now increasing.
Government backed trials are underway now that it is accepted that EVs will make up a major part of company fleets over the coming years. Several police forces have put EVs on their fleets and in early December 2009 Peugeot started taking reservations for its electric car with letters of intent from both local authorities and companies.
Sainsbury’s has ordered fifty one Edison electric vans from Smith Electric Vehicles and these vans will be used in their online grocery delivery service in London. These vans will be delivered in the first half of 2010 and will make Sainsbury’s one of the largest operators of commercial EVs in the UK.
Bus operator Go Ahead London has taken delivery of its first Smith Edison vans after a successful month of trials. These EVs are to be used as support vehicles to London’ s bus fleet in keeping with the Go Ahead London’s environmental programme.
So with a taste of the movements in the EV market clever fleet managers will no doubt be integrating EVs into their fleet plans so that they can enjoy knowing that they are being good to our environment as well as lower running costs and cheap fleet insurance.