As fleet operators face some of the most critical price hikes in recent history, it is more important than ever to ensure we are making the most of our existing vehicles.

In approximately eight years’ time, it will no longer be possible to purchase or procure a fossil-fuel powered vehicle in the UK as we roll towards the UK’s net zero strategy plans ahead of 2050. The Department for Transport recently outlined its objectives for the coming years as part of a new report: Decarbonising Transport: A Better, Greener Britain. With the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate now just two short years away, it plans to roll out regulations in early 2023.  

It’s clear that the most impactful solution to reaching net zero in the transportation sector is indeed accelerating and supporting the adoption of Zero Emission Vehicles. At Geotab, we recently surveyed local authorities across England to better understand their own journeys into Electric Vehicle (EV) transitions among their fleets – and we found a shocking lack of preparedness, with almost three-quarters of surveyed operating fleets less than 10% electrified.

Local authorities are uniquely positioned, having been allocated £450m from the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) scheme to support with investment in infrastructure and preparation for the EV transition.  Yet the transition has been slow and the infrastructure is inadequate. The majority of respondents to our research noted that fewer than 50 charge points were in place across public, home, and depot locations, ultimately inhibiting the potential EVs can present in displacing traditional fossil-fuel based vehicles.  

We also face challenges in the hearts and minds of drivers making the transition. For example, more than 57% of all van owners are anxious about making the transition to EVs, according to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. 

Our Geotab telematics solution seeks to address these concerns head-on by providing a wealth of data-driven insights to fleet operators about the potential benefits the EV transition can bring. 

Among those we surveyed, however, only 13% reported utilising telematics across the entirety of their fleets, leaving invaluable insights on the table. When employed correctly, this data can show vehicle trends and usage, uncover unknown ‘not-spots’ where additional infrastructure is required, and help set a broader case for EV transition, targeting the areas where EVs are needed most. 

For example, we’ve previously demonstrated with analysis of more than 3,400 real-world vehicles powering our Electric Vehicle Suitability Assessment (EVSA) that nearly 40% of UK fleet vehicles could go electric and still save money. In fact, I’m pleased to say that we’ll be unveiling this year’s EVSA report soon and discussing the latest findings at the upcoming EV Summit in London.

Despite all this, however, it is clear that challenges in perception and infrastructure remain a key barrier for the industry to overcome. For the public sector—and local authorities in particular—there is a nascent opportunity to be the ‘flag bearer’ in demonstrating the vast potential that EVs can bring to fleets. But to do this, telematics needs to drive impactful decision making. The funding also needs to be there from central government: additional incentives and schemes need to be expanded, not retracted, to ease the pain points surrounding the transition. 

This transition is coming and there is a fantastic opportunity to make an impactful and bountiful success out of it—the time is now for our councils, local authorities, and government to move forward and prepare before it’s too late. 

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