Can electric vehicles (EVs) save your business money?
6th August 2018
With so much coverage of electric vehicles (EVs) in the media, we explore the benefits for your business and ask whether now’s the right time to switch to the power of the future.
As Haven Power’s Electric Vehicle (EV) Project Manager, Adam Hall spends his working days thinking about EVs and how they can help businesses. He works with the company’s Energy Services team that’s supporting UK companies as they strive to find the right energy solutions. These are solutions that can meet an organisation’s financial, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability goals.
We asked Adam to sum up the pros and cons of switching from a conventional fleet of cars or vans to EVs. He also explains how to use this emerging form of transportation to make a successful pitch to your finance department for the investment funds.
Zero exhaust emissions
“For now, the overwhelming benefit of EVs is environmental, since they produce no harmful emissions at the point of use. That means no carbon dioxide (CO2), no nitrogen oxide (NOx), and no particulates (atmospheric aerosol particles).
As a result, EVs can really help your business meet its sustainability goals. And this is especially true if you’re generating your own renewable energy to charge them.”
“If you choose to buy an EV, you could benefit from a Government grant of around £4,500 towards the cost of a £25,000 vehicle. That makes a difference – particularly if you’re buying a fleet.”
Low maintenance and running costs
“With no engine, no transmission and no gearbox, there are far fewer working parts in an EV than in a conventional petrol, diesel or even hybrid vehicle. That means less to maintain and less to go wrong – and lower running costs.”
No Congestion charge
“If you’re using your EVs within central London, they’ll be exempt from the congestion charge – currently £11.50 a day for cars and small vans. London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s recent consultation on the ultra-low emissions zone suggested that road charging in the capital should be extended outwards, so more of your fleet could be affected by charges in the coming years.”
“As more and more cities consider congestion charging, and as the price of the charge rises, the purely financial case for electrification will become clearer.”
Potential as battery storage
“There’s a lot of talk in the media, and within businesses, about the need to buy batteries. Research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California* suggests that EVs could ‘eliminate the need to build costly stationary battery storage for power from renewable sources’. “
“So, if you’re considering an investment in a large number of vehicles, there’s potential for them to be used as battery storage in the future. For instance, you could charge them up at off-peak times, and then discharge them back into your own energy supply when electricity from the Grid was more expensive. In years to come, two-way charging points could even make it possible to use your fleet’s battery storage as part of a Demand Side Response scheme. While this would allow you to start recouping some of your capital outlay, it’s still some way off.”
Expensive to buy
“Since EVs still come at a premium compared to diesel or petrol vehicles, switching can be a difficult decision to justify financially. One of the largest cost elements of an EV is the battery. However, experts tell us battery pack prices have fallen by 75% since 2010. That trend’s likely to continue and, as those costs drop, the financial decision to switch will become easier. “
Charging could be tricky
“It’s reported that there are 13,000 charging points for EVs in the UK – still a relatively low number. However, both Shell and BP recently acquired charging networks and suggested EV charging points will start appearing on fuel station forecourts. Even so, not all these chargers will have the same plug as your vehicle. Even if you have charging points installed on your business premises, it could still be a challenge to recharge and get back to work if your fleet’s power runs low while out on the road.”
“And of course, each EV will take time to charge – effectively putting it out of action for a while. On the other hand, there’s an expectation that batteries will charge more quickly – and hold their charge for longer – in future, making them even simpler to use and helping to overcome these recharging issues.”
As marginal costs for EVs continue to reduce and battery technology improves, the purely financial argument for switching to EVs is approaching a tipping point. That’s especially true if your fleet operates in central London, or another city that applies some form of congestion charge where EVs are exempt.
And, if your business has a strong position on sustainability as part of your environmental or CSR goals, then the time to switch to EVs may be closer than you think.
To find out how Haven Power can help your business with any aspect of sustainability, please use our contact form.
*Jonathan Coignard et al. Clean vehicles as an enabler for a clean electricity grid, Environmental Research Letters (2018). DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aabe97Submit Contact Form
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