BuyBy vs BuyFor: How fleets will drive demand for charging infrastructure.

Imagine going to work and being given a laptop without a charger. If you’re expected to work every day, you’re going to need to find a way to charge it. The same can be said for the future of fleets. With companies snapping up Low Carbon Vehicles, they’re going to need a way to top up their batteries to be able to work.

Most Electric Vehicles (EVs) on the roads today belong to earlier adopters. Owners have bought their vehicles (BuyBy) to support a change in their lifestyle. As fleets adopt EVs, drivers will have their vehicles bought for them (BuyFor) as requisite to do their job. With around 25% of properties in the UK not having off-street parking, this change will instigate a huge change in the demand for charging infrastructure.


Dwarfing the BuyBy drivers

38,000 Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) were registered on our roads last year, and most of these sales were private. Private owners are willing to invest in the high-cost technology and, most importantly, have the space on their property to accommodate the charging needed to support their journeys. As adoption is based on product fit an availability, uptake is slow and spread out across geographical areas.

Compared to the 1.5 million cars registered by the corporates in 2019, private registrations are a drop in the electric ocean. Corporate demand for EVs is consistently rising, so it’s safe to assume that in the coming years this part of the market will dwarf private sales.


The issues for BuyFor drivers

BuyFor drivers don’t have a choice in the vehicle they get, they’re just expected to do their job. We’ve already discussed the drastic difference in mileage between personal and business drivers in a previous article. To keep it brief, in order for business drivers to do their job, they’ll need 5 x more charge compared to BuyBy users. They’ll have to rely on overnight charging, but nearly a quarter just don’t have the space.

Organisations tend to buy in bulk, so while this issue isn’t really important now, it won’t take long for that to change. Fleets also tend to be localised, so depending on the city figures for household that can’t charge overnight at home could be a lot higher.

As an example of scale, let’s look at BT Openreach. Their goal is to be Net Zero by 2045, and their fleet accounts for a staggering 66% of their operations emissions. In the combined commercial fleet, there are roughly 30,500 vehicles that they’re looking to shift to Low Carbon/Electric vehicles. Using our analysis of off-street parking in Great Britain (EV Map) 24.6% of these drivers won’t be able to charge overnight. That’s 7995 workers that won’t be able to do their job. This example only looks at one company, when you start to replicate this out across other organisations with large fleet holdings the scale of the issue becomes clear.

When the supply of EVs catches up for the demand, we’re going to see a lot more electric vehicles being bought by organisations for their workers. A lot of these workers will have to rely on public charging stations to be able to travel for their job. Local Authorities are going to have to act fast to preempt this demand and make the transition to low carbon fleets achievable.

As fleets go electric, nearly 25% of drivers don’t have anywhere to charge them.

In our last article, we discussed the impact fleets are going to have on EV ownership. In case you need a recap, 2019 saw 1,711,000 new vehicles registered to corporations. Electric Vehicles (EVs) are becoming an increasingly popular choice among companies as they try to align their fleets with lower emission or Net Zero initiatives.

As fleets move towards EVs, new issues will arise surrounding charging. For these drivers to be able to do their job, they’ll need to charge overnight. But, based on our analysis of residential parking (EV Map), 6,642,000 households in the UK don’t have the space to park and charge off street.


Business drivers will need 100kWh of charge per week

Business drivers will use their vehicles in a different way to private owners. Private owners typically do 3,100 miles per year, or around 60 miles per week. In contrast Business drivers do 18,000 miles per year, covering around 70 miles per day. Their mileage is done consecutively across the working week, so in order to keep working, these vehicles will need to be charged overnight.

If 1kWh of home charging provides 3.4 miles of range, these vehicles will need 100kWh of charge, or 20kwh per day, to keep them on the move. A typical overnight home charger is 7.2kW, this means that 3 hours of charging would cover this deficit.


Right now, each on street charger has to service 1492 vehicles…

Throughout our projects with electric vehicles, we’ve been researching residential charging availability (EV Map).

We analysed all 27 million households in Great Britain to understand whether they can or cannot park and charge an electric vehicle off street at home. Through this research, we determined that a staggering 24.6% of households don’t have access to off street parking. That’s 6,642,000 households that will need to need rely on our public charging network.

Our existing public infrastructure isn’t placed to support overnight charging – they’re located away from residential areas and placed in city centres, supermarkets and other short stay destinations. According to ZapMap, we have almost 17,000 public chargers, and only 4,453 are on-street. Without even considering their location, this works out to be roughly 1 on street charger for every 1492 households without parking.

On street charging provisions need to be increased dramatically to support those that are unable to charge overnight at home and allow them to do their jobs.


From a lifestyle change to a livelihood

As the way the country uses EVs changes, so will the needs of its residents. Right now, councils receive requests for chargers from earlier adopters who’re looking to change their lifestyle. Soon these requests will move from the superficial to something that people need in order to do their jobs. Investments in public networks will have to be well planned in order to protect the livelihoods of these residents and keep them moving.

Companies made up 59% of new vehicle registrations last year, so why are charging policies centred on private users?

More than 1.7 million new vehicles we purchased by companies last year.

The demographics of EV drivers are changing.

By the end of 2019, there were 36 million cars and Light Goods Vehicles (LGVs) on Britain’s roads, with 2.9 million being registered that year alone. Fleet vehicles make up a huge proportion of these new vehicle sales, with 1,711,000 being registered by companies – almost 60% of new registrations.

Net Zero and low emission transport are a high priority to commercial organisations, fleet investments are moving away from the traditional ICE vehicles towards greener, Electric Vehicles (EVs). This change is happening quickly, with British companies being predicted to spend an anticipated £12 billion on Electric Vehicles in the next 2 years.

The above means that corporations will be the biggest purchaser/leaser of EVs. Some organisations are already making the switch, with Amazon placing a 100,000 unit order with Electric Vehicle start-up Rivian. Other large organisations, such as Asda, Boots and British Gas, are following suit and experimenting with EVs in their fleet configurations.

Changing policy to match demand

Current policy surrounding electric vehicle charging is based on historic usage. Early Adopters were driven by environmental impact and influenced by individual product fit and availability. They were able to cover the high cost of entry these products held and had a safe place to charge them overnight at home. These private users typically do 3.10O personal miles per year, or 60 miles per week.

When companies begin providing EVs for their workforce, the way vehicles are used and the demographics of people that use them is going to change dramatically. In contrast to personal miles, Business users travel nearly 5 times more per year (18,000 miles). Broken down into days, business drivers will need to be able to charge their vehicles overnight to complete the 70 miles per day they travel at work.

To cover 346 miles per week, these electric vehicles need just over 100kWh of charge – something that can only be realistically achieved though overnight charging. But what happens when you don’t have off street parking?

Keeping the workforce moving

With 1-in-3 managers aiming to electrify half of their fleet by 2025, the policy on charging needs to change to align with the needs of corporate drivers. Both Central Government and Local Authorities will need to think carefully about who would benefit most from a strong public charging network, how often they’ll need them and, most importantly, where these chargers are placed.