The survey, conducted by Centrica Business Solutions, interviewed representatives from 200 UK companies of various sizes and industries. All companies had a turnover of more than £1 million in the previous financial year and operated at least one vehicle.
44 percent of companies say they have added more Electric Vehicles to their fleets and 48 percent added charging stations to their premises in the past 12 months. When Centrica Business Solutions reported 2021 vehicle and related infrastructure investment to all UK companies, it concluded that UK Plc’s total investment would be £11.6bn. That was below the £15.8bn it had hoped for, as challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, chip shortages and rising costs of living created complications.
The good news is that most British companies surveyed are poised to increase their Electric Vehicle related investments this year. Centrica Business Solutions predicts UK Plc will invest £13.6bn in vehicle electrification in 2022, a 15% increase. It is estimated that UK companies will adopt around 163,000 electric vehicles this year, equivalent to a 35% increase in the national stock of commercial electric vehicles currently on UK roads.
Despite the financial challenges, the results show the companies remain focused on their long-term sustainability goals and plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel in the UK by 2030. 62 percent of corporate respondents said they plan to operate an all-electric fleet by 2026. 36% plan to install on-site chargers this fiscal year.
Centrica Business Solutions acknowledges that many companies may see electric vehicles as a way to combat soaring petrol and diesel prices. Average road fuel prices hit record highs of 185.6p per litre for petrol and 192.8p per litre for diesel in mid-June, according to the RAC.
Nonetheless, the survey found that key drivers of Electric Vehicle adoption are meeting long-term sustainability goals and responding to pressure from employees, customers and investors to reduce emissions.
“Businesses will continue to play a vital role in achieving the UK’s green transport ambitions, but with a record number of Electric Vehicles expected to enter the UK car park this year, we must ensure the supply of vehicles and wider charging infrastructure is robust enough to meet the demand,” said Centrica Business Solutions’ managing director Greg McKenna.
With the adoption of electric vehicles far outpacing the expansion of charging infrastructure for several years, the UK government pledged in March to increase public charging points tenfold over the decade. The Electric Vehicle infrastructure strategy also includes a commitment to introduce regulations for charging network operators on reliability, accessibility and charging costs.
New regulations, which came into force this week, are aimed at making electric vehicle charging in the UK “smarter”. All home and work charging stations sold in England, Scotland and Wales are now required to feature smart charging, allowing drivers to charge when grid demand is low. This allows drivers to charge more cheaply and helps balance the grid. If drivers need to charge faster, they can still override this option.
Earlier this week, the Climate Change Committee released its annual progress report to parliament. The overall conclusion is that a credible implementation plan in the short term cannot support the highest level of ambition.
Transport has been the UK’s highest-emitting industry since 2016, barring the lockdown. In 2021, land transport will account for 23% of emissions. Nonetheless, the Climate Change Committee has identified examples of strong political support for the transition to Electric Vehicles.
Electric vehicle sales in the new car market grew 12% in 2021, while the Climate Change Committee recommends an 8% increase. The Climate Change Committee also welcomed the deployment of 28,000 public charging stations in the UK, an increase of 7,600 in the past 12 months. But the Climate Change Committee noted that this is still well short of the government’s pledge of at least 300,000 by 2030. The Climate Change Committee believes the government has a “credible delivery plan” to develop in this area.
However, the Climate Change Committee warns that switching to electric vehicles alone is not the best way to decarbonise transport. The Climate Change Committee wants more political support to make it easier for individuals to travel by bus, train, bike and walk.
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