Mass electric vehicle (EV) adoption in the UK will be driven largely by fleet operators, according to a new report from the Connected Place Catapult and Digital Catapult. The publication recommends that fleets nationwide should be given access to the necessary tools, information and incentives to encourage them to make the switch to electric-operated vehicles sooner rather than later and blaze a trail for EV technology on the highways.

Given that the UK government has set a target of all brand-new car sales being zero emission by 2040, the report notes that fleet operators are going to be vital in helping to take older, inefficient fleet vehicles off the road in favour of greener EV models.

Those fleets that swap their commercial vehicles to EV models in quick time will help to generate an early impact on limiting air pollution and CO2 emissions, whilst ramping up demand for EV charging infrastructure that still needs to improve for EV adoption to reach a nationwide ‘tipping point’.

Alan Nettleton, senior technologist, Connected Place Catapult, said: “Electrification of our road vehicle fleet will be vital in addressing challenges such as air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, along with measures to encourage walking, cycling and public transport.

“We need to think carefully around how to make EVs an attractive prospect to both [the] individual and the fleet operator.

“This includes making the experience easy and intuitive, whilst at the same time capitalising on the great driving experience EVs offer.”

The Catapult’s report also warns that a lack of standardised EV data is preventing the development of a “fully-connected, digitally-enabled EV world”. Mr Nettleton confirmed that their research explored the possibilities of “rich communications between all stakeholders in a seamless, secure and trusted manner”.

The Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain technology and immersive technologies such as augmented reality could all play a role in providing new and innovative ways to combine and share relevant information to potential EV users.

“Areas such as integrating charging information into sav navs, mobile charging solutions to help manage demand, Vehicle to Grid power solutions and service solutions which combine EV use with other types of transport should all be explored; alongside vital technological developments in battery capacity and charging speed,” added Nettleton.

“We need to start planning now for what we will need when a large proportion of vehicles on the road will be electric.”