Tech is essential to help fleet leaders manage the switch to commercial EVs
By Philip Van Der Wilt, Senior Vice President EMEA at Samsara
A new trade group has been established to help supercharge the rollout of charge points needed to enable the UK’s switch to electric vehicles (EVs) and the realisation of Net Zero.
ChargeUK — the new trade association for the UK’s EV charging industry — brings together 18 of the largest companies installing charge points across the UK.
Between them, they plan to invest over £6 billion installing and operating new EV charging infrastructure by 2030. They plan to install tens of thousands of new chargers this year, with the aim of doubling the size of the network through 2023.
The trade group said it plans to work with the government and other stakeholders to break down barriers and shape the policies needed to enable EV transition.
In a statement, Ian Johnston, Chair of ChargeUK and CEO of Osprey Charging Network, said:
“The formation of ChargeUK is an exciting day and is a demonstration of the electric vehicle charging industry’s growing size and importance to the UK economy.
“Together we are investing billions of pounds to get more charge points in the ground right across the country. These numbers reinforce our commitment to the UK’s Net Zero future,” he said.
Charging infrastructure is key to EV transition
According to EV charge point mapping service, Zap-Map, at the end of April 2023 there were 42,566 electric vehicle charging points across the UK spread across 24,909 charging locations.
This represents a 37% increase in the total number of charging devices since April 2022. Last year the government set a target of 300,000 public EV charge points across the UK by 2030.
Having access to a national charging network is vital for fleets looking to replace their existing petrol and diesel vehicles with new EVs.
Complex supply chains — everything from supermarket deliveries to delivering raw materials to be processed into finished products — depend on things being moved by road. And any interruption to that could be deeply damaging to the economy.
But a robust and widely public charging network is only part of the equation. In today’s modern world, EV fleet managers need data — as well as electricity – to power their fleets.
Data — as well as electricity — will power the fleets of the future
That’s because transitioning to EV-based fleets isn’t as simple as replacing existing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles with EVs. As well as range anxiety — an issue that should be solved once a fit-for-purpose charging network is available nationwide — there are other issues to consider such as charge scheduling, payment, and efficient route mapping.
This explains why logistics managers are turning to smart fleet management solutions that offer features to maximise fuel efficiency during the transition from ICE to EV as part of their plans to jumpstart their electrification plans and reduce emissions.
After all, the UK is not alone in its plans. Policymakers around the world are launching zero-emission vehicle programmes and setting emissions reduction targets that directly impact commercial fleets across a number of industries.
What’s more, fleet managers are looking to improve tracking and reporting on their progress as they accelerate fleet electrification.
Digital tools are essential for fleet operators
This complex transition will require long-term planning, foresight, and data-driven decisions. And that’s before you consider that every organisation will have its own unique challenges depending on its size, business objectives, and operating schedules.
“Electric vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce environmental impact knowing that transportation is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions across the globe,” explained Tim Campbell, Managing Director and Commercial Vehicle Decarbonization Consultant at Campbells Consultancy.
“With the right technology infrastructure, it is possible in various operations to do this without compromising your supply chain.
“Commercial fleet electrification has yet to reach an inflection point but with increased regulatory incentives and reporting requirements, preparedness for this operational shift remains critical,” he said.
For example, fleet managers are increasingly using dashboards that enable them to see vehicle charging status and fuel efficiency across their entire fleets. While range anxiety can be addressed by using data to create custom charging profiles.
What’s more, by analysing data from across their fleet, managers can discover which ICE vehicles are most suitable for EV transition.
The shift from ICE vehicles to EVs is not easy. The adoption of EVs by commercial fleets is not without risk and requires a careful balance of planning, investment, and technological innovation.
It requires essential infrastructure to keep vehicles running — an issue that has been given added impetus with the establishment of ChargeUK. But it also requires the adoption of advanced data management tools to help smooth the transition and make the switch to electric a reality.