Fleets are a vital part of business operations. We rely on effective transport as it supports supply chain efficiency, cost control, market expansion, strong customer service, and competitiveness – to name just a few. It plays a fundamental role in the success of businesses in today’s growing globalised and competitive market and has a significant impact on business sustainability.
But the transport industry is also one of the top carbon emission contributors. The United Nations has reported that transport is at the centre of many economic and social development challenges. It accounts for about 64% of global oil consumption, 27% of all energy use, and 23% of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.
So how can businesses that rely on transport to keep their business operating effectively with a cost-effective and efficient fleet, whilst still implementing and achieving their sustainability goals?
Winning the postcode lottery
Many businesses are now actively working to make their fleet as sustainable as possible. But reducing transport emissions doesn’t come without challenges. While trying to minimise the negative impact on the environment, there is also the case of reducing operating costs, and – for some businesses or in some countries – meeting regulatory requirements.
Nonetheless, the electrification of a company fleet – either partially or fully – is a key step in reducing a workplace’s carbon emissions. In fact, a survey found that the majority of businesses (62%) said they expected to operate a 100% electric fleet in the next four years, ahead of the ban on petrol and diesel vehicle sales. In addition, more than four in ten said they had increased their electric vehicle (EV) fleet in the past 12 months.
The good news is that EVs now account for 3.1% of the UK’s vehicle parc; one in every 32 cars now comes with a plug and a total of 1.1m electric cars now in use on UK roads – a figure rising by more than 50% over the last year. Ownership of electric commercial vehicles has also increased, with electric vans up 67.3% and buses and coaches increasing by 34.9%.
But did you know that the sustainability of your EVs can be affected by where in the UK your fleet vehicles charge?
For instance, wind power is more popular in Scotland, which has the largest amount of wind turbines out of all the onshore wind farms in the UK. This means that businesses charging their EVs in Scotland will be using more renewable energy to do so. Therefore, they are likely to have a lower negative environmental impact than those charging their car in an area that relies on non-renewable energy. Essentially, where businesses are charging their electric fleets – and the availability of renewable energy in that area – will impact a business’s overall carbon footprint. This ‘power postcode lottery’ is an often unrealised part of the sustainability agenda.
Other considerations for a sustainable fleet
As mentioned, transitioning to EVs is only one aspect of a sustainable fleet. Businesses can also implement maintenance schedules and provide training to drivers on eco-friendly driving techniques. This can include:
- reducing idling time;
- advising drivers to avoid aggressive acceleration and braking;
- planning journeys outside of peak times to avoid adding to air pollution and traffic (where possible); and
- ensuring tires have the right pressure.
Fleet managers can also use technology to map out the best routes to reduce unnecessary mileage. This not only saves fuel but also reduces wear and tear on vehicles. Monitoring routes and vehicle mileage patterns may also help businesses evaluate if they have the right number of vehicles. For EV drivers, it can help them source charging points that rely on renewable energy – to make that extra ‘green’ step.
Finally, businesses can collaborate with utility companies to ensure access to clean and sustainable energy sources for EV charging stations positioned at locations where drivers will charge. As well as this, businesses can look at how they can counteract the power postcode lottery by reviewing sustainable EV charging solutions. This could include the possibility of installing solar panels to power workplace chargers. Looking at environmentally friendly ways to repurpose or recycle EV batteries at the end of an EV’s life is another step businesses can take to ensure their fleet is as kind to the planet as possible.