A report from the RAC suggests the Government will bring forward the ban on new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 10 years, from 2040 to 2030.
The sale of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) would be banned by 2035, meaning in only 15 years any new cars and vans joining fleets will have to be pure electric.
The RAC called the challenges facing fleets in light of this change “monumental” and believe charging infrastructure will need to be expanded at an “incredible pace”.
Commenting on the subject, RAC head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said: “We believe many more rapid charging devices are needed in order to give drivers the confidence that they can make longer journeys in a convenient and time efficient manner”.
He added that even if those with off-street parking could access charging points with relative ease, often charging vehicles overnight at home, concern remains over the quality of a national charging network to make the process “simple and convenient”.
Britain’s largest vehicle leasing company, Lex Autolease, which recently labelled the country’s EV charging infrastructure as “not fit-for-purpose” clearly echo this concern.
Richard Jones, managing director of Lex Autolease and Black Horse explained: “I have people in my business that work all over the UK and we’ve had some real horror stories about charging availability. The infrastructure is just not there, particularly once you get outside major urban environments”.
A recent Department for Transport (DfT) survey also highlighted that charging infrastructure concerns were the biggest perceived disadvantage to EVs. The Government has been looking at the responses to the survey since it closed in July.
The British Vehicle Leasing and Rental Association (BVRLA) labelled the move to bring the diesel and petrol ban forward from 2040 to 2035 or earlier and to include hybrids for the first time “a mistake” explaining that the ban wouldn’t recognise the diverse needs of fleet operators.
Despite all of this, some the UK’s largest fleets have formed a coalition calling for the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans to be moved forward to 2030. Tesco, Dixons Carphone, E.On, Heathrow, Lime, and SSE are all members, with Royal Mail joining in late October.
Stuart Simpson, Royal Mail CEO, said: “We want to become a net zero carbon business with a 100% alternative fuel fleet. We want to play a leading role on this agenda. To that end, we are committed to buying more alternative fuel vehicles for our fleet”.
Alongside concerns around infrastructure, training of technicians to support EV users is also a significant factor. The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) says it needs to get at least 55,000 technicians trained in the next 10 years.
Steve Nash, CEO of the IMI, said: “Currently, around 5% of UK automotive technicians are adequately trained to work on electric vehicles. How do you ramp up electric vehicle adoption if the myriad of users – from private motorists to fleets operating cars and vans, blue light vehicles and more - can’t be confident they will be able to access the expertise to service and repair these vehicles safely”?
Nash continued that the Government needs to prioritise “the basic fundamental of accredited skills” as “Users of electrified vehicles want to know that they can hand over their vehicle to someone who has the right skills. Those who aren’t properly trained or equipped to work on electrified vehicles would be risking serious injury or fatality”.
Nash added that Covid-19 had set back training technicians “significantly” and that optimum numbers might not be reached “in time for 2035, let alone 2030”.