10 Nov 21

Why mobility not EVs represents the future for fleet managers

Vehicle electrification may be the most immediate challenge facing fleet managers, but it is merely the first step of a revolution in working practices and mobility requirements.

Fundamental reviews of both individual lifestyles and business practices are starting as employees, companies and governments emerge from the Covid-19 crisis.

Working from home

Research by Arval, for example, has found that 25% of jobs can be done remotely without any impact on productivity, a figure that rises to 60% for higher skilled work. Prior to the pandemic only 5.4% of employees worked from home.

The result is a sharp decline in the take-up of new office space (down -55% in London and -37% in Paris) and a change in emphasis, with many businesses rationalising their workspace into places for meetings and collaboration, rather than individual work, said Shams-Dine El Mouden, International Consulting Director, Arval (pictured above).

With many employees now wanting to work from home at least two days per week, the demand for company cars will diminish among staff who have historically used these vehicles to commute to work (the trend is much less pronounced among job need cars).

Mobility budgets

Evidence for this fundamental change is already apparent in the increasing interest in and demand for mobility budgets, which offer employees travel flexibility rather than the fixed nature of a company car. Arval’s research found that 28% of corporates have already introduced a form of mobility budget, while 58% are investigating its possibilities with the intention of offering the benefit to staff.

This change has to happen if corporates are to honour their sustainability commitments and heed the call of COP26 for substantially lower CO2 emissions - 30% of greenhouse gases are produced by travel and transport.

EVs are not the answer

Simply switching from internal combustion engines to electric motors is not the solution to the climate crisis if those cars are to stand idle for 96% of the time, said Alain Visser, CEO Lynk & Co.

“Cars should change to electric, but they also need to be much better utilised,” he said, advocating car share programmes that satisfy travel demand with many fewer vehicles than a ‘one driver one car’ model.

Fleet managers should no longer view the company car as an efficient answer to employee mobility, said Visser.

“You need to provide a mobility solution to your employees; offering a car has always been that solution, but no longer,” he said.

Political support for MaaS

Powerful political support for this view of future transport came from Georges Gilkinet, Belgium Minister for Mobility, who described the car as problem, not a freedom. He identified Mobility as a Service as “the future”, with a priority on active travel, such as walking and cycling, alongside micro-mobility, bus, trains and shared electric cars.

“We have to make it easier to pay for bike share, buses and trains with one app. We are working on MaaS and we have a vision for it,” he said.

Authored by: Jonathan Manning