Zero-emissions strategy – EVP viewpoint

Introduction

Despite the continued impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Prime Minister has insisted that continuing to move forwards with the Country’s zero-emissions strategy – ‘Road to Zero’ is of absolute priority in ‘building back’ the UK and repairing the economic damage that has occurred during the Covid-19 period. ‘The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’, released in November 2020, therefore remains a priority. A vital element of this plan is banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, moved forwards from 2040.

Understanding why the Government has opted to move forward with this plan and its impacts on fleets across the UK will be vital to Fleet Management stakeholders.

‘Road to Zero’

‘Road to Zero’ was initially launched in July 2018. It detailed the strategy the Government intend to use to create a ‘cleaner road transport system’. It forms a key part of the zero-emissions strategy. When ‘Road to Zero’ was first published, the strategy planned for phasing out petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

The initial document set out the following ambitions:

  • At least 50% – and as many as 70% – of new car sales and up to 40% of new vans to be ultra-low emission by 2030.
  • Enable a “massive” roll-out of infrastructure to support electric vehicle adoption.
  • Set the stage for the “biggest technology advancement in the UK road network since the invention of the combustion engine”.

The initial document was split into the following parts:

  • Drivers of change (Part 1)
  • Vehicle supply and demand (Part 2)
  • Infrastructure (Part 3)
  • Leadership at all levels (Part 4)

Initial ‘Road to Zero’ Strategy

£1.5 billion investment into ultra-low emission vehicles by 2020:

  • Developing charging infrastructure.
  • Maintaining plug-in vehicle grants.

Reducing emissions of vehicles already in use:

  • Increasing supply and sustainability of low carbon fuels, reaching 7% of road transport fuel by 2032.
  • Prevent garages utilising the removal of emissions reduction technology.
  • Adding vans and black cabs to the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme
  • Accelerate the adoption of fuel-efficient motoring by company car drivers, businesses operating fleets, and private motorists.

Drive the uptake of the cleanest new vehicles:

  • Maintaining an approach at least up to EU standards, or higher, for vehicle emissions regulation post Brexit.
  • Reforming Vehicle Excise Duty to incentivise van drivers to make the cleanest choices when purchasing a new van.
  • 25% of the central Government fleet ultra-low emission by 2022, and all new purchases are ultra-low by default. Thus, 100% is ultra-low by 2030.
  • Launching a ‘Go Ultra Low’ campaign to maintain consumer communications about ultra-low emission vehicles.
  • Bringing government, industry and consumer groups together to help ensure consistent, vivid consumer messaging regarding fuel and technology choices.
  • Compel vehicle manufacturers to recall vehicles for an environmental failure and make altering emission control systems a legal offence.
  • Supporting the early market for used low emission vehicles.
  • Investigating particulate emissions from tyre, brake and road wear to improve understanding of these emissions and how to reduce them.

Reduce emissions from heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and road freight:

  • Introducing a voluntary industry-supported commitment to reduce HGV greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2025, from 2015 levels.
  • Launching a joint research project with Highways England to identify and assess zero emission technologies suitable for HGV traffic.
  • Working with industry to develop an ultra-low emission standard for trucks.
  • Undertaking further emissions testing of the latest natural gas HGVs to gather evidence to inform decisions on future government policy.
  • Support natural gas as a potential near-term, lower-emission fuel for HGVs.

The development of “one of the best electric vehicle infrastructure networks in the world”:

  • £400 million charging infrastructure to ensure charge points are available at motorway services and large fuel retailers and easily accessed and used across the UK.
  • Ensuring new-build houses are ‘electric vehicle ready’.
  • All new street lights to include charging points.
  • Continued support for home charging and workplace charging.
  • £40 million for an innovative, low-cost wireless charging solution.
  • Future-proofing the road network.

The renewed plan

In November 2020, the Government took steps to accelerate its zero-emissions strategy. Mainly by ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030. They set out the following as part of the November 2020 update:

  • Over £1.8 billion to support greater uptake of zero-emission vehicles
  • £1.3 billion to accelerate the roll-out of charge points for electric vehicles in homes, streets and motorways.
  • Grants for homeowners, businesses and local authorities to install charge points.
  • £582 million in grants for those buying zero or ultra-low emission vehicles, making them cheaper to buy.
  • ‘Green number plates’, introduced in December 2020, allow local incentives such as cheaper parking.

What does this mean for our customers?

As with all significant government announcements, the devil will be in the detail. However, in line with your overall business, ensuring your fleet strategy is current and reflects the latest government initiatives is crucial. This will help avoid any last-minute decisions which may lead to costly decisions regarding fleet replacement.

Once you refresh your fleet objectives, a plan can be put in place to address the policy on vehicle replacements. For organisations with a strong environmental focus, the replacement of existing vehicles may lean towards increasing the utilisation of ultra-low emission vehicles. Hence, this will speed up the organisation’s zero-emissions strategy. For those with a cost focus, using petrol or diesel vehicles may be the best option. It is vital to understand replacement cycles for the vehicles as 2030 is not that far away. Organisations must plan to ensure they are preparing themselves for the upcoming changes. EVP can provide expert advice to your organisation, assuring that you plan your fleet to operate effectively.

Vehicle options

Traditionally, EV manufacturers were criticised for lacking options in terms of model range and supply volumes. However, manufacturers now can offer a wide model range, which you can select as most appropriate to your organisation’s requirements. In addition, historically, smaller manufacturers, such as Tesla, are constantly growing, with an improved supply making their products a genuine fleet alternative.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Currently, electric and ultra-low emission vehicles tend to be more expensive than petrol or diesel alternatives. Although, due to the tax incentives employed by the Government to encourage the uptake and lower running costs, it is better to look at the total cost of ownership differences between the alternatives. It is also worthwhile noting that the grant incentive regime may change because of the new funding announcement.

Infrastructure

The development of home charge points and publicly available charging points is vital if electric vehicles are to succeed. It seems that the Government is developing infrastructure to meet their challenging goal. Urban areas are likely to have greater charge point access for electric vehicles, at least in the short to medium term.

Roadmap and dynamic review

To gear up for ‘Road to Zero’, we advise creating a roadmap for the transition to lower emission vehicles. However, there is no need to move all assets immediately as this will have significant operational and cost consequences for many.

The market for low emission and electric vehicles is developing rapidly; employees who cannot operate these types of vehicles effectively will likely change within months. Therefore, it is essential to have a dynamic review process that considers new product availability, lead times, pricing, and infrastructure.

Subsequently, it is crucial your business know how it’ll implement its zero-emission strategy.

In many cases, your fleet management company will be well placed to advise you on this.

However, if you would like a more independent view, please get in touch as we would be delighted to help.