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.

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