Have you or your business already made the decision to embrace electric vehicles or are you just thinking about it? Keep reading to learn about 7 totally avoidable challenges you’ll probably encounter along the way.
1. Future proofing infrastructure
Most businesses start their journey of electrification with a rough idea of what they think they need. Perhaps this is based on how many employees currently have EVs, or with the addition of a quick headcount, how many others could switch to EV in the foreseeable future.
That’s a start, but what happens when more viable electric vans or cars come to the market and people that didn’t think they would go electric at that time, all of a sudden make the switch too? Think back to all of those people who said they’d never buy a mobile phone without buttons.
What happens when the charging demand from your customers, visitors, employees or fleet increases a couple of years later. Or what happens when the tech has evolved? Especially if you didn’t start with the right information at the beginning of the process.
In short, just like any hardware you invest in, both the usage and the tech will change over time. For example, in the coming years, you won’t need to physically plug your EV in and authenticate it – you’ll simply pull into a bay and your car will start charging automatically above a wireless pad. If you’re installing charge points right now, then you’ll probably need to upgrade again due to a shelf-life of around 7 years – and that’s not taking into account a potential need for more charge points in this time period, especially if the business gets the number wrong in the first place.
So you’re probably wondering how on earth you can future-proof yourself.
Although EV charging tech will change over time for the better, many things won’t. You’re average miles won’t necessarily change, the amount of energy you need to top up won’t and the physical power to your site won’t either, unless you spend a fair amount upgrading.
The key to future-proofing is starting with the right foresight on what will be needed, then ensure your installer does all the groundwork to make future expansion easy. For example, if you have 10 bays in a row, but only want to install 2 charge points, it’s worth the installer laying a big enough cable to bring enough power to the location for all 10, not just 2. They can even wire up each bay in anticipation for the future installations – especially if you don’t plan on relocating or you have a long lease. That way, when you’re ready to upgrade, expand your charging capabilities or even implement wireless charging technology in the future, a lot of the costly and messy work has already been done, so your extra charge points can be installed easily and quickly.
2. Not getting the right number of chargers
Generally speaking, most businesses aren’t 100% sure on how many chargers they require and whether these need to be fast or rapid. And for those that are sure, nine times out of ten, there’s actually a better solution that greater meets their requirements – they’re just not necessarily aware of it.
Analysis of your operational fleet, company cars and employees’ private vehicles is key before making any infrastructure decisions – and most businesses don’t have the tools, time or the information to hand to make these informed choices.
Businesses will have a sound understanding of the maximum and minimum mileage of their operational fleets and possibly company cars, but won’t know much about their employees personal and customers cars.
For example, the average mileage of someone traveling to and from work is about 25 miles per day. A 7kw charger will roughly add 25 miles in one hour, meaning the energy requirement is less than 1kw per hour during the employees 9-5 day, therefore you could have a row of load-balancing chargers to accommodate more employees. This is significant, because something like this at a larger scale, could save you the pain and expense of upgrading your incoming supply.
3. It’s out of your project lead’s comfort zone
There are many reasons businesses choose to embrace electric vehicles – from a CSR point of view, employee benefit or to simply reduce their fuel bill. The interesting thing emerging is, that once the decision to implement has been made, it’s not always the fleet managers tasked to make it all happen (caveat: not all businesses have fleet managers), so this responsibility is falling on employees across HR, sustainability, procurement, facilities, operations and beyond.
For example, the MD of a public sector organisation is currently leading by example and championing more employees to switch to EV, which is fantastic! The knock-on effect of this is that their employee benefits officer has received an increase in electric vehicle requests from employees. In this process they have then realised they’re not quite ready for mass uptake and need some help with implementing the right infrastructure.
Ultimately, vehicle electrification can fall to a wide variety of employees and, for the majority, this is outside of their comfort zone.
4. Not knowing which vehicles are ready to go electric
Some leasing companies have a good level of competence in this space. They can help your business identify which vehicles are right for the switch based on many factors, including journey types and specific vehicle use.
However, the more data that can be provided and analysed, the better informed the company becomes.
For larger businesses, this is easier because they tend to have telematics or some form of monitoring in place, and they’re big enough to have some dedicated support from their leasing company.
When it comes to SMEs and small businesses, there can be a huge gap in understanding, especially with journey data. Without knowing how many miles and the types of journeys your vehicles are being used for, you won’t know which vehicle or driver is ready to switch to EV.
5. Realising the options are endless and not having time to look at them all
Each charger on the market is the same – as in they all charge EVs – but they’re also completely different from a cost, speed, aesthetic and interface functionality point of view.
For example, let’s say you arrange to meet two leading charging manufacturers. Manufacturer A will tell you their app-enabled charger is the right fit for you. Manufacturer B does the same – except they’ll tell you their token-enabled charger is best for you.
But you actually need a charger that allows you to issue RFID cards to your customers.
Where does this leave you? A bit confused and potentially stuck with a costly solution that’s not fit for purpose.
Often businesses start this process before doing their homework, mainly because the homework is hard and a completely new topic that they have never studied. They need to fully understand their requirements first, scan the market in some detail to ensure the manufacturers shortlisted are going to meet the business needs and finally have the confidence that their final decision is the right one.
6. No idea what the incentives are
Other than the fantastic 0% BIK incentive coming up this April, there are some other great government incentives that businesses aren’t always aware of.
Firstly, the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS), amended in the 2020 budget, reduces the purchase and installation cost of up to 40 new workplace charging stations by £350 per charge point, providing a total potential reduction of £14,000.
Secondly, the Office for Low EmissionVehicles (OLEV) plug-in grant is available for new fully-electric cars and reduces the cost by £3,000. Unfortunately this was reduced from £3,500 in the 2020 budget and now only applicable to vehicles under £50,000; however, EVs are now exempt from paying the yearly £320 Vehicle Excise Duty tax. In addition, new fully-electric vans are eligible for £8,000, making the cost of EVs closer to their equivalent in petrol or diesel.
Finally, a 100% first-year allowance (FYA) for expenditure incurred on electric charge-point equipment for businesses. The allowance will expire on 31 March 2023 for Corporation Tax purposes and 5 April 2023 for Income Tax purposes.
7. Freaked out employees
Great – so you’ve made the decision to have an electric-first fleet policy and you’re keen to roll this out to all staff in company cars or salary sacrifice.
While these are fantastic intentions, businesses sometimes forget to bring their workforce along the journey with them – excuse the pun!
Engagement, onboarding and training is key. Firstly, you need to help them understand electric vehicles, help them overcome mental barriers and bust all the myths. Then as part of the onboarding process, you need to understand their individual needs, such as, can they have a home charger? Do they even want one? Will the business pay for it? If they live in a flat, how will they top up at home?
Finally, training is really key. You need to ensure your employees adjust their mindsets when it comes to driving an EV – for example, planning longer trips is a must, topping up at every opportunity and knowing where public charge points are.
Need help to overcome all these things and more? Diode simplifies vehicle electrification procurement by helping to build electric vehicle implementation plans, matching the right infrastructure and securing the best deal. This process presents businesses with choices they didn’t know existed and ultimately connects the dots between the best technologies, services and products which meet individual requirements.
About the author
Dan has over 10 years’ experience working in various marketing and communications roles across the private and public sector, including startups. He’s an all-round marketer, specialising in strategy, campaign management, content marketing and social media. He’s hugely passionate about businesses that do social good or help improve the environment, which is why he joined Diode last summer to help get things off the ground and get the word out.