20 November 2020

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With No 10 announcing a new deadline for its EV roll-out, businesses will have to begin their fleet transformation sooner than planned.

The ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans is to be brought forward to 2030 – 10 years earlier than was originally planned – the Government has announced.

It will also launch a consultation on the phase-out of new diesel HGVs, although no date has yet been set for this. It says the phase-out will “put the UK in the vanguard of zero emission freight.

On the new 2030 deadline for cars and vans, a statement from Downing Street said: “Following extensive consultation with car manufacturers and sellers, the Prime Minister has confirmed that the UK will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, ten years earlier than planned.

“However we will allow the sale of hybrid cars and vans that can drive a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe until 2035.”

Exactly how far a ‘significant distance’ is has yet to be clarified, but the five-year extension will only apply to plug-in hybrids.

To support the accelerated deadline, the Prime Minister has also announced a £1.3 billion fund to speed up the roll-out of EV chargepoints for homes, streets and motorways in England, £582 million in grants for the purchase of zero or ultra-low emission vehicles and nearly £500 million to be spent in the next four years for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries in the Midlands and North East.

BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney called the 2030 date an “extremely aggressive phase-out target, but one that will be embraced by many drivers and fleet operators”.

He added: “The 2035 extension for plug-in and full hybrids provides an essential lifeline for those facing a greater zero-emission challenge. Vehicle rental companies and van fleet operators will be very relieved to have this additional breathing space but will need clarity on exactly what types of hybrid are in scope.”

The Association of Fleet Professionals warned that the deadline is only two to three replacement cycles away for most businesses and for fleet managers to have a structured plan for transition the Government needs to spell out its support over the whole period, including the future of benefit in kind taxation and vehicle subsidies.

Paul Hollick, chair, AFP, said: “However, probably the single biggest issue that needs tackling is recharging infrastructure. As The AA has been pointing out, just one in six councils currently offer on-road charging and, as yet, there is no overall plan for overcoming this inherent disadvantage.”

Allstar fuel cards such as One Electric already support businesses running petrol, diesel, hybrid and pure electric vehicle fleets, and Paul Holland, managing director, UK Fuel, Fleetcor said: “Certainly, from our research, more than one in four large businesses are already planning to add electric vehicles (EVs) and other AF vehicles to their fleets by next year. This research, coupled with the momentum in the market, is a clear statement of intent that UK companies are planning for low emission, low cost, highly efficient transport for their employees, goods and services. However, as the deadline is now less than 10 years away and a full transition to AF vehicles will take time, traditional fuels still have an important role to play for the foreseeable future as businesses prepare.

“It is important that we all play our part to help them navigate any concerns over the adoption of AF, such as range anxiety. This is why we’re supporting businesses through this adoption by ensuring we provide a solution that helps standardise payment options across multiple providers – our Allstar One Electric card.”

Alex Veitch, General Manager for Public Policy at Logistics UK added that there must be practical alternatives to petrol and diesel HGVs before a phase-out of these vehicles is considered.

In order for the commercial sector to be able to deliver, government should work with industry to develop a long-term pathway to decarbonisation, providing clarity on the technology and alternative fuels it supports so that manufacturers and operators can invest with confidence,” he said.

In terms of smaller vehicles, while logistics businesses are committed to switching to electric vans, the government must introduce a fairer way of funding grid reinforcements and energy supply upgrades; currently, the onus lies on a business to fund upgrades to the entire local electricity hub if  there is insufficient energy supply in the existing infrastructure to power its electric vehicle fleet. Without a resilient energy and charging infrastructure the switch to electric vehicles will be a pipe dream for businesses.

The Government’s announcement of a 10 point plan for a ‘green industrial revolution’ also covered other areas of green energy that will have an impact on businesses, including making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel, investing in zero-emission public transport, generating hydrogen production capacity for industry, transport, power and homes, and becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions.

To read the full 10 point plan, click here.

To find out more about the Allstar One Electric card, visit here

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