100 UK Organizations Sign up to go Ultra Low – But is it Low Enough?

 In Fleet Sustainability

What exactly is the Go Ultra Low program?

In 2014, the UK Government teamed up with some of the largest manufacturers of plug-in electric vehicles to create the campaign ‘Go Ultra Low’. Their goal is to encourage more people to purchase electric vehicles, by helping fleet managers and motorists to understand the benefits and capabilities of the range of electric cars that are currently on the market, and the financial savings of making the switch. The Government classifies any car emitting less than 75g/km of CO2 as ultra-low emission.

The campaign is supported by Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Renault, Toyota, Volkswagen, the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, and the UK Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles. Through the Government’s plug-in car and van grants, potential buyers of electric vehicles are offered a point of purchase discount of up to £4,500 ($7,300 CAD) for cars and £8,000 ($13,000 CAD) for vans, as well as being eligible for exemptions from road tax and other local taxes.  

Go Ultra Low Companies

In 2016, the campaign established the ‘Go Ultra Low Companies’ initiative, to recognise and reward public and private sector organisations that offer EVs to employees as company cars. In order to achieve the ‘Go Ultra Low Company’ status, these organizations must pledge to switch at least 5% of their vehicles to electric by 2020.

As of August 2017, 100 UK organizations have now achieved ‘Go Ultra Low Company’ status. The most recent wave of signees to the initiative includes Oxford City Council, Santander UK, Swansea University and Gatwick Airport.

Explaining the success of their ‘Company’ initiative, Head of Go Ultra Low, Poppy Welch, said “Fleets and businesses represent the lion’s share of the UK’s new car buyers, so have the potential to shape the market and accelerate the UK automotive market to be entirely ‘ultra-low emission’.

Recent studies have shown that of the 940,000 company car drivers in the UK, 75% are currently not offered an EV option. 69% of these motorists said they would be likely or very likely to choose an EV as their next car if their employer gave them the option. This represents a total of 486,450 company car drivers.

Fleets setting an example

As Welch identified, “Go Ultra Low Companies are setting an example for others to follow, dispelling misconceptions around EVs at the same time as helping to improve UK air quality and reduce the country’s carbon footprint.”

In July 2017, the UK government launched its National Air Quality Plan, establishing objectives to improve the environment and air quality. Specifically, it aims for all new sales of conventional gasoline and diesel cars and vans to end by 2040. The ‘Go Ultra Low Companies’ program is certain to help push forward the EV agenda in the UK and shows that there is a desire among organizations from both the private and public sectors to electrify their fleets.   

With an average daily commute in the UK of less than 10 miles, there are plenty of vehicles that would be suitable candidates for transition to electric.

But is 5% too low a benchmark?

EU Member States have been targeted to reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20% by 2020 and cars produce a significant proportion of these emissions, currently responsible for around 12% of total CO2 emissions.

The ‘Go Ultra Low Companies’ program is evidence of a strong resolve to move towards a cleaner future through the procurement of EVs, but does a goal of 5% by 2020 go far enough, or have the goalposts been set too wide apart?

Some countries have set much more ambitious targets than this. Norway and the Netherlands, for example, intend to phase out all fossil fuel-powered automobiles by 2025.

Some car manufacturers have also pledged to completely phase over to electric or hybrid vehicles, with Volvo committed to doing so by as early as 2019. As such, there is a strong argument that a target of switching only 5% of company fleets to electric by 2020 is not sufficiently demanding of businesses.   

Several Go Ultra Low Companies have decided to aim further and marked out more ambitious targets for themselves. Santander UK plans for EVs to represent 10% of its fleet of 1,400 vehicles by 2020 and Oxford City Council has pledged to transition 7% of its fleet to 100% electric by 2010.  

What technologies exist to help fleet managers break through this target?

Fleets managers can make a far greater and more confident transition to EVs by understanding where within their fleet they are fit for purpose and which vehicles would be the strongest candidates for upgrading to electric.  

FleetCarma’s patented Electric Vehicle Suitability Assessment (EVSA) technology helps fleet managers plan for the acquisition of electric vehicles by using real duty cycle data.

By connecting the FleetCarma telematics system to their gasoline, diesel, and hybrid vehicles, fleet managers will immediately receive all of the benefits of standard telematics, which can help to drive down overall fuel spend and increase fleet efficiency.

The EVSA technology then goes one step further by utilizing each vehicle’s drive cycles and climate to determine which electric vehicles would have sufficient range to cover that particular duty pattern. It also calculates real-world estimates of emissions and total cost, taking the guesswork out of an EV procurement project.  

The system ranks vehicles within the fleet from the most suitable, to least suitable for electric vehicle replacement. This methodology allows for optimized electric vehicle deployment, providing you with accurate projections of the total cost of ownership of EVs so you can justify your purchasing decisions to the financial department and other key stakeholders.  

Then, as you integrate electric vehicles into the fleet, the same telematics device seamlessly connects with them to provide industry-leading electric vehicle telematics capabilities. This allows you to ensure optimal EV operation with real-time state-of-charge data, reports of electric versus gasoline utilization for plug-in hybrids, and plug-in compliance monitoring.

Utilizing FleetCarma’s advanced EVSA technology, fleet managers can maximize their electric vehicle ROI and ensure a smooth rollout.

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