Why Company Cars will be the EV’s Saviour… and its Biggest Problem

What’s interesting about the UK car market isn’t its size (31 million cars), it’s how these cars get there in the first place and crucially how that will affect the broader adoption of EVs.

Over 2 million new cars were sold last year, of which 57% were bought as company cars. These are sold on quite quickly, meaning companies buy most of the 31 million cars that most people end up owning. In other words, Fleet Directors decide the composition of the UK fleet. And most large fleet directors have said they will move to EVs as soon as there is a suitable model available.

Why do Fleet Directors want EVs?

Corporates are different from consumers. Corporates look at non-car factors such as carbon reduction goals and corporate branding when making purchasing decisions– think how odd it will be for an electricity company to choose not to use electricity to power its cars. They also look carefully at Total Cost of Ownership and already EVs are far ahead of their fossil-fuelled counterparts. All of these factors drive a much higher appetite for electric cars in the corporate sector than in the private sector. We’ve seen this first hand. In our consultancy business, we do not have a single customer who does not have an EV plan in place.

So, all’s good then? Manufacturers will shortly come to market with some viable fleet models, these will be snapped up at volume and the UK fleet will migrate to EVs at a great pace.

Not quite.

Company cars have one inherent difference; they cover high mileages, annually averaging 18,000 miles per year against the UK personal average of 5,104. High mileage means high charging.

The Rising Tide

Consumer EV adoption has been similar, in many ways, to a rising tide. There has been a gentle increase across all types of EVs and geographical areas. DNOs (Electricity distribution companies) have been able to keep ahead of this demand increase by making gentle improvements across all areas. This follows the theory of Diversified Demand, where different people demand power at different times. Charging patterns are the same.

Apologies for all the maths, but we need to chew through this.

An average annual mileage of 5,104 means about 98 miles per week which would require around 28kWh of charging. Off-peak home charging provides around 50kWh per night (7hrs at 7.2kWh) or 350kWh per week. So an electricity company only needs to find 28kWh in the window of 350kWh to charge the average car. This enables the electricity company to spread and diversify the needs of one driver across many others. The Rising Tide.

The Crashing Wave

Company drivers are different though: they are time-constrained, they return home with a low “tank” and need it full the next day. Using the same sums as before, 18,000 annual miles means 346 miles per week and a weekly charge of 100kWh. By definition, this mileage and charging will need to happen during the working week, so we are looking at finding 20kWh per night in a charging window of 50kWh. This is much harder to spread, especially when we try to ask a company car driver to sacrifice charging for the common good.

What makes this worse is that large corporates move in big steps, buying individual models of cars in their thousands. So we go from very few difficult balancers to hundreds and thousands in the time it takes to drive the new EV from the depot. Finally, company cars are not equally geographically spread, they are localised. Recruitment profiles will tend to mean that company car drivers often live quite closely together.

The end result will be very fast build-ups of un-diversified demand in concentrated areas. A Crashing Wave.

Is It All Bad News?

Not at all if the right planning goes in.

While the main manufacturers are moving towards delivering a fleet model, they are still some way off – needing several more battery factories before they can deliver at volume. In addition, the location of these Crashing Waves can be predicted, so strengthening can be focussed.

Biggest Accelerator of EV Ownership

What this will be is great news for the EV market overall. It will bring a whole swathe of new drivers into the EV experience, this positive experience will be disseminated to a wider group of drivers and crucially, the second-hand market will get a huge injection of affordable EVs. Without a doubt, company cars will be the biggest accelerator of EV ownership in the UK.

So bring on the Crashing Wave, just as long as it doesn’t hit your street before the new powerlines have gone in.


Article originally posted by Ben Allan on 04/09/2019 via LinkedIn.

5 Lessons From Going Electric

A year ago this week my wife and I took the plunge, sold our diesels and bought two electric cars (EVs). It’s been an interesting journey but here are 5 key things that’ve stood out.

Firstly though, a bit of context about me. I live in the countryside, work is 30 miles away, my customers are all over the UK, and we have 3 large children. We do about 40,000 miles combined a year and lived the cliché with a BMW estate and a Land Rover Discovery. These were replaced with a Tesla X and a Hyundai Ioniq.

And finally, I am interested in the environment but I am by no means an eco-warrior – if I’m honest, this move was much more ego than eco.

1. EVs are better cars

Forget all the talk of compromises, Electric Vehicles are just… better. They are quieter, smoother, faster, better to drive and cheaper to run. My total cost of ownership for my Tesla X is much less than that of my old Discovery.

I wouldn’t go back. I will never buy another fossil car.

2. The current range is fine, but more would be better

My Tesla does about 200 miles at fast motorway speeds, the Ioniq does an impressive 120 miles of local traffic. For big-milers like me, this is perfectly acceptable, especially when you consider we automatically plug in every night so the tanks are full every morning. Once I got used to it, after a couple of weeks, I stopped “thinking” about range on a day-to-day basis. However, for mass adoption, the ranges really need to be doubled, and when that happens there’ll be no thinking at all.

What is true is that on longer journeys you need to plan a bit. To be honest, after 3 hours driving I usually need to stop before the Tesla does and the Superchargers mean that the car is ready to go before I am.

On the other side of the coin, we don’t take the Ioniq on any long-distance trips because the charging is too slow and unreliable. If you can’t see in advance whether a crucial en-route charger is working, and even available, how can you confidently make a trip outside of the range of your car? This visibility piece is easily far more important than putting in more chargers. Though, it would help if the current crop of council chargers actually worked.

3. Current EVs are V1.0, but so was the iPhone

The Tesla and Ioniq are clearly version 1 cars and need to be seen that way. The Tesla rattles and shakes continuously (it’s definitely American not German), has been in the shop already and periodically just… turns off.

The Ioniq is built really well but has a mind of its own when charging and autonomously drives like a puppy sniffing out a new pavement.

But, the early iPhone had the same issues. It had a battery life of 5 minutes and the screen cracked if someone in the same room sneezed! These objects need to be seen through a different lens. They are better than what we have now but not as good as they eventually will be.

If I had to do 500 miles in one hit, then my old BMW would be faster and most probably more comfortable – they are on the 7th version of that car so they should be really good at it. The first version of the Tesla can’t match that level of finesse, but it’s a better car and worth buying now for what it does.

4. Pundits and policy-makers don’t understand EVs

I’m continually astonished about how little EV experience most pundits and policy-makers have, how few of them have actually driven an EV and needed to charge it up, and yet they are still making big, long term investment decisions. Funnily enough, this ends up with a series of really poor decisions that become painfully obvious when you own an EV.

The most obvious error is the “common knowledge” that removable cables are how mainstream users will charge their cars, hence the vast majority of public chargers require a driver to use their own cables. You only have to try this once on a cold, wet evening as your huge coiled cable scrapes all the filth out of the gutter and deposits it on your trousers, to realise that this assumption is ridiculous. Yet councils are still installing these devices and then wondering why nobody uses them.

5. EVs make drivers “get” the environment

EV ownership makes you see the whole EV space in a different way. It’s most probably the first and biggest environmental investment you make and it really turns you onto the subject.

My house is gabled which is no good for solar panels, and it’s not windy enough for fans, so like 99% of everyone else I had not really spent anything on being better environmentally. Sure, we recycled what we could and insulated the house, but nothing significant. Now we see the world very differently.

The EV made me look hard at the electricity bill – for the first time ever – as we needed a new account to manage the charging. The options, to be honest, were really limited but what lept out was how cheap renewable energy was, and how aligned it was to what we needed (Thank you Bulb – top job). It then became infectious to the point where I now understand electricity pricing peaks. I’m having a residential battery installed, solar panels fitted, and I’m changing the way I travel. I’ve even changed the way that my company delivers services and we now deliver more on the EV subject than anything else.

So, should YOU buy one?

Yes – stop making excuses, there is an EV that fits your needs. If you buy another fossil-burning car, you’ll have made the wrong choice.

Getting an EV will allow you to run a better car while actually making a real and measurable difference to the environment… which will make you a better person and you’ll feel better for it.

That’s a pretty good thing.


Article originally published on 08/05/2019 by Ben Allan via LinkedIn.

EV Adoption – Why the Answer is in French Cheese

The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) deal that went live in February may well turn out to be one of the biggest drivers of EV adoption – if you believe in the two following assumptions:

  1. EV adoption is primarily restrained by supply, not demand – I suggest that you spend 5 minutes with any Nissan Leaf salesman and you’ll be on-board with this.
  2.  EV supply will be dominated by Asian suppliers – I suggest that you spend 5 mins looking at current Japanese and Chinese production numbers and you’ll be on board with this also.

So, anything that fundamentally improves the supply of the EVs will dramatically increase adoption.

What the EPA does is balance Japan’s love of French cheese with our love of Japanese cars by removing the Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) from both (along with other products and services). A TRQ is the standard ratcheting system that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) uses to enable open trading between countries.
Crucially, its mechanism favours the exporting of high margin products – and as most EVs are low margin they are not encouraged. With the TRQ effectively gone, Japan will be encouraged to export as many EVs as it can build. We will buy them whenever we want, and adoption will surge as supply rises to match widespread demand.

This should mean that everything is fine, right? Well, it would be if it weren’t for two key challenges:

  1. The TRQs on cars will be tapered over 7 years, so the impact is buffered.
  2. Brexit. Assuming Brexit goes through, HM Government will have the unenviable choice of either trying to mirror the EPA, improving our environment but damaging our EV industry, OR putting back-up the trade barriers thereby protecting the UK’s EV industry, but slowing down EV adoption and guaranteeing additional investment requirements.


Article originally published on 04/03/2019 by Ben Allan via LinkedIn.

Will Home Battery Storage Kill-off V2G Before it Even Starts?

Vehicle to Grid (V2G) is a great concept. We could balance the increasing strains on the electricity network, not by building more expensive infrastructure, but by using the batteries that we already have in our electric vehicles (EVs). Only that might not make much sense, and there may be a much better solution available today.

The V2G model requires vehicles to load and unload at times convenient for the networkThat is, lots of spare capacity during the day to absorb electricity from solar panels and then full batteries in the evening to discharge to the network to reduce demand.

The trouble is business, and occasional drivers don’t match this profile. Their vehicles are full and empty at the wrong times and it will require careful planning to contribute – not something we can expect from most drivers. In addition, the chargers are expensive, the billing complex and the alignment to network hotspots is difficult.

What really might kill off V2G is home battery storage, as we are really close to a 5-6 year payoff period. This does require some assumptions:

  • An installed 20kWh battery needs to be around £6,000 – currently, a 13.5kWh battery costs about £6,500 but these costs have dropped 80% in the last 5 years, so this isn’t far away.
  • The peak / off-peak variance needs to be 15p per kWh – at the moment it is closer to 10 -11p however, the combination of strong upward pressure on peak electricity costs and the impact of innovative time based off-peak charging means that 15p variance is closer than many think.

Once home batteries become financially attractive than their other 2 key properties really start to make an impact – their fixed location and when they run out of power, nothing stops.

As home batteries don’t move they can be relied upon to make consistent impacts on an electricity network, and with the right incentivisation, networks can be strengthened quickly and cheaply at specific risk areas.

When home batteries are drained, the normal network seamlessly takes over – no cars stop, no-one is stranded. This means that with smart responsive billing, a home battery can become an incredibly flexible resource at all hours of the day.

So what should we put our future bets on? The thing that no-one has quite worked out how to make happen, or the thing that we are all most probably going to buy anyway?

Article originally published by Ben Allan on 27/02/2019 via LinkedIn.