Road to Net Zero : 8 things you need to know

Friday 12th January 2024

Establishing dependable access to chargers for employees, both at work and home, is a critical aspect of a thriving decarbonized fleet plan. While it may seem simple, the constantly changing landscape of vehicles, technology, and infrastructure can make it challenging to achieve.

If you're feeling uncertain about your journey to zero-emission mobility, our team at Novuna can help. Please read this blog covering eight key questions (and answers) about decarbonising your fleet.

1. What is the impact on fleet operators?

Fleet operators are aware of the government's plan to halt the sale of petrol or diesel-only vehicles by 2035. However, since manufacturers will need to decrease the production of traditional vehicles and shift resources to EVs, the deadline is much closer than it may seem.

Over half of plug-in cars are registered to businesses rather than people. Research indicates that up to 62% of fleet operators expect to be fully electric within the next four years. Even as we aim towards the goal of net-zero emissions, there are still some lingering concerns. Will we be able to generate enough power to achieve this target? And will we have the necessary vehicles and infrastructure to keep businesses running? These remain important questions yet to be answered.

2. Are the targets realistic and enforceable?

The government has implemented various tax incentives and grants to speed up the transition and is dedicated to supporting the shift until it becomes either too expensive or unnecessary. Nevertheless, meeting the deadlines will require more than just financial incentives. Robust measures are necessary to ensure success.

To encourage the use of zero-emission vehicles, the government plans to introduce a ZEV Mandate that regulates the minimum percentage of these cars that must be sold by manufacturers. Companies will be able to meet their obligations through a combination of vehicle sales, banked or borrowed allowances, and allowances purchased through trading. As per the current proposals, failure to comply with the scheme's requirements will result in financial penalties of £15,000 for each excess vehicle in the car scheme and £18,000 for each excess vehicle in the van scheme.

3. Has the energy crisis changed the picture?

The UK's reliance on gas, which accounts for 40% of its electricity generation, has contributed to the current global energy crisis. This has led to a significant increase in electricity prices, which may cause concerns regarding the feasibility of electric vehicles. However, it is important to remember a previous fuel crisis that resulted in record levels of petrol and diesel prices.

The UK has a unique opportunity to guarantee energy security by investing heavily in renewables and nuclear power. This would allow them to have more control over the production and distribution of electricity, which would safeguard both businesses and consumers from any potential price increases.

While it's uncertain whether the government will achieve its goal of having "among the cheapest wholesale energy prices in Europe by 2035," any progress made in this direction is promising. More stable and predictable energy costs are expected in the future.

While the increase in electricity costs may have temporarily reduced the financial gap between ICE vehicles and EVs, the latter still have lower maintenance requirements and are eligible for numerous tax incentives. This means that, when factoring in total operating costs, most EVs remain less expensive than their ICE counterparts.

4. Do we have enough public charge points?

Even though there has been increasing investment into charging infrastructure by both private and public worrying about having enough access to chargepoints is on everyone’s minds. And, as more electric cars are hitting the road, this raises serious questions about whether the charging infrastructure rollout is keeping up with the adoption rate.

It is important to remember the European Union's Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Directive (AFID), created in 2014, advised countries to achieve a ratio of 10 electric light-duty vehicles (LDVs) per public charger by 2020. While success rates have fluctuated, the average EV-to-charger ratio in the EU reached 14 to 1 by 2021.

Of course, it is difficult to maintain a high ratio of chargers with rapid expansion of a number of vehicles. The advancement in range and speed of charging costs amplifies the doubt in how many chargers are going to be needed. It is of the utmost importance that businesses keep their fleets moving; and that means having chargers in correct, accessible places.

5. Are chargers being installed in the right places?

Due to convenience drivers usually refuel their petrol or diesel cars on the way to their destination. However, now EVs need to be charged at a location that allows the driver to carry out other activities i.e. at work, at home, shopping centre. This is hugely considered when deciding the location of changepoints.

Most company cars, and many LCVs, are taken home by employees and may, or may not, be used for personal mileage. Some of these employees will have the necessary space for a home charge point to be installed and businesses can support drivers making the switch by providing access to a quality-assured charging partner that has been fully vetted by their employer.

In many cases, employees take company cars and LCVs home, which can be used for personal purposes. Some of these employees may have the necessary space for a home charging point to be installed. To facilitate the transition to electric vehicles, businesses can offer drivers access to a quality charging partner that has been vetted by their employer.

6. Are charging speeds fit for purpose?

Whilst technology is advancing rapidly, charging an EV is still a long way from the speed and experience of refuelling a petrol or diesel vehicle and being able to quickly restart your journey.

The more realistic charging speed for cars is 100 miles of range in around 30 minutes. You cannot always plan where you are going to be or in a location that has accessible changepoints. Business and life do not always work out that way. Installing charge points in locations where employees spend most of their time with their vehicles is key.

7. Can the National Grid deal with demand?

Peak electricity demand has not exceeded 62 billion watts since 2002 due to energy-efficient improvements, resulting in a 16% decrease in demand. National Grid estimates suggest a full switch to electric vehicles (EVs) would only increase demand by 10%, and new EV charge points are required to intelligently reduce power usage during low-demand periods to even out usage and reduce costs.

The National Grid proposed additional developments in infrastructure to guarantee seamless coverage of charge points, supported by National Grid ESO's plan to increase the supply of lower-cost electricity from zero-carbon British sources. The launch of Great British Nuclear also shows the government's commitment to nuclear power as a source of clean electricity. While more work is needed to support electric vehicles, the infrastructure can cater to current and future demand.

7. Is going electric the only answer?

It is not the only option. But most manufacturers are heavily focusing their time on battery electric vehicles. Realistically there is isn’t the time or resources to develop a large-scale roll out of infrastructure that needs to support non battery powered cars and LCV.

8.How can I plan my own transition to zero-emission vehicles?

We are all on the road to net zero together. The decisions that business fleet operators are asked to be made now are based on an infrastructure landscapes that continue to grow and evolve. It is a challenge that needs work with a disconnected supply chain.

No need to juggle a complex array of providers for your electric vehicles and charge points. We offer a single, partnership-driven solution that will guide your business towards making the right decisions today and in the future. We provide an end-to-end service, from funding and managing the vehicles and charge points, to optimizing their usage. Our team of experts will ensure a seamless transition to a fully electric fleet, providing the expertise, services, and support required to make it happen.