Take-up of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next three years will put the UK businesses ahead of all European nations in terms of electric vehicle (EV) adoption, according to research by Arval.

Findings from the 2018 edition of Arval's Corporate Vehicle Observatory Barometer – sourcing opinions from 3,718 fleets – indicates 61% of UK fleets expect to utilise a combination of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles by year 2021.

The research also shows 32% of UK fleets currently using at least one alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) – 25% adopting a hybrid vehicle, with 22% and 14% opting for plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles respectively.

Analysis shows greater enthusiasm in larger fleets: 35% of those with more than 50 cars and vans are currently operating an EV in comparison to only 4% in fleets with fewer than 10. However, the Barometer predictions see these figures rising to 68% and 30% over a three-year period.

Head of Arval's UK Corporate Vehicle Observatory, Shaun Sadlier, said: “What we are beginning to see emerge here is perhaps the fuel mix of the future. As some fleets start to turn away from diesel, we will start to experience greater use of not just petrol but a range of alternatively-fuelled vehicles.

“As expected, hybrids and plug-in hybrids are the winners here but, also, more than four out of 10 fleets expect to be operating a fully electric vehicle by 2021, which would mark a huge increase in EV sales compared to today’s levels. Part of this could be prompted by the type of EVs that emerge as, from 2020, we expect to see greatly increased ranges.

“In the next few years we believe that fleets will start to gain a greater understanding of which fuels work best in certain types of application... Advances in the technology itself will also make electric and plug-in vehicles a more viable option for many more businesses.

“Why is the UK leading Europe in so many areas? There are several factors but, at the top of the list is a taxation regime that encourages low CO2 vehicles and the fact that we replace our vehicle more often than most other countries."