Gaps appear in fleet sector’s drive to decarbonise, says BVRLA

The BVRLA’s new ‘Road to Zero report’ has found “dangerous gaps” between certain sectors and their transition to electric vehicles.

The British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association’s (BVRLA) latest ‘Road to Zero Report Card’ provides a traffic-light assessment of the decarbonisation trajectories of the UK’s car, van and truck fleets, measuring their progress against the vital criteria of battery electric vehicle supply, demand and infrastructure.

According to the report, the picture for cars is mostly encouraging, where a positive outlook for BEV infrastructure and supply achieves an ‘Amber – accelerating’ rating, and surging demand gains a ‘Green – cruising’ score. Most fleet car segments are embracing BEVs with enthusiasm, driven by a favourable tax regime, a raft of new models and significant growth in the charging network.

The van fleet sector is a different story, with BEV infrastructure, supply and demand all receiving an ‘Amber – brakes-on’ assessment. This reflects growing concerns about a shortage of suitable electric vans for many key use cases, issues with public charging infrastructure and insufficient government support in the form of grants and tax incentives.

The report’s biggest concerns are saved for the HGV market. With the Government poised to issue a 2035-2040 phase-out deadline, the sector receives a blanket ‘Red – parked’ rating. The report added that there is “precious little momentum” in this fleet segment, with no phase-out delivery plan, no technology roadmap, no mainstream vehicles and no charging infrastructure.

BVRLA chief executive, Gerry Keaney, said: “Every fleet is on the ‘road to zero’, but the task ahead is easier for some than others. There are ‘sweet spots’ where the tax incentives, total cost of ownership and typical journey patterns make going zero emission an attractive choice.

“Elsewhere, progress is much slower as fleets grapple with a shortage of appropriate vehicles and eye-watering charging infrastructure costs.”

This diversity in decarbonisation trajectories is backed up by the BVRLA’s latest Fleet Sustainability credentials, which profiles a range of fleet segments according to BEV uptake and Clean Air Zone compliance.

Less than 1% (0.7%) of the total UK car parc is currently zero-emission, whereas 22% of salary sacrifice cars, 8% of company cars and 7% of car club cars are BEVs. However, the unique decarbonisation challenges faced by the car rental sector is reflected in the fact that its BEV fleet currently stands at just .6%.

There is a similar picture when it comes to electric vans. One percent of the current leased LCV market is made up of battery-electric vans, which in turn make up just 0.4% of the wider van parc. Again, the rental market is behind, with just .1% of its fleet battery electric.