The three key steps to fleet electrification
Convenient charging, green energy and cost control have become the three key areas of focus for leasing companies and their customers.
Leasing companies are developing a suite of new products and services to help fleets recharge their electric vehicles, source renewable energy to support net zero commitments, and manage the costs of recharging plug-in cars and vans.
There is a clear chronology to these new solutions as fleets first require assistance to make EVs operationally viable, then seek to ensure the transition to battery power shrinks their carbon footprints as much as possible, before applying the same cost controls that they have used to minimise spend on petrol and diesel.
As corporate sustainability commitments intensify, companies’ first imperative is to ensure that drivers can conveniently recharge electric company cars and vans.
Access to chargers
Athlon Charge, for example, gives drivers access to public charge points across Europe via a single charging tag, card or even smartphone; while fleet managers can access detailed information on charging costs.
Christian Schüler, CEO of Athlon, said: “With our Athlon Charge app, they can search, navigate and start charging sessions; with a clear insight of charging costs.”
Leasys is going a step further by developing its own charging network, currently the largest in Italy, for its customers.
Rolando D’Arco, CEO of Leasys, said: “We will keep on developing and innovating the energy management with important infrastructural investments, which will lead us to triple within three years the 1.200 fast charge electric charging points in the 12 countries where we operate.”
Until fleets become 100 per cent electric, however, fleet managers will have to manage fuel spend for petrol and diesel vehicles, alongside the charging costs for new EVs. Managing these two cost centres is a challenge, although twin solutions are available, such as Volkswagen Financial Services’ LogPay Charge&Fuel Card, which combines access to more than 280,000 charge points in 28 European countries alongside fuel at over 20,000 filling stations in 19 countries.
Dr. Christian Dahlheim, CEO of VWFS, said: “With the associated app, customers can always find a suitable charging station and view the occupancy status and supported plug types as well as the charging mode (AC/DC).”
Zero carbon energy
With sustainability commitments driving the transition to electric vehicles, fleets are also looking to ensure that their energy comes from renewable sources. Partnerships between leasing companies and green energy companies are helping this progress towards net zero - MHC Mobility (a sister company to Novuna Vehicle Solutions), for example, has partnered with carbon neutral energy providers such as ENECO and Charge It in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium, and Gridserve in the UK to offer sustainable solutions to its fleet customers.
And for fleets whose drivers charge their EVs at home, LeasePlan Energy helps employees save money and carbon through smart charging.
Tex Gunning, CEO of LeasePlan, said: “Through custom algorithms, LeasePlan Energy automatically chooses renewable energy sources when they are most abundant and cheapest, passing the savings onto the customer.”
EV charging cost control
Finding a solution as simple as a fuel card to track charging spend is difficult in the world of EVs, with drivers able to plug in their vehicles at home, work and public charging stations, each of which has very different energy tariffs. Not only are these charges ideally consolidated into a single invoice, but they also need to be reconciled against business and private miles to ensure drivers are reimbursed fairly. Overpaying drivers risks undermining one of the most important cost of ownership savings of EVs – the cheaper energy cost per kilometre of electricity compared to diesel – but underpaying leaves drivers out of pocket and could stall EV adoption.
Tim Albertsen, CEO of ALD Automotive, said: “With our partner ChargePoint, we help our clients to electrify their fleet while keeping energy cost under control. Electricity can be costly at some public charging points, so it is important to monitor the balance between home charging, office charging and public charging. We facilitate this with the charging App we provide our clients through our partner ChargePoint.”
Looking to the future, EVs actually have the potential to be revenue generators, not merely cost centres, via vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. This treats EVs as large battery packs on wheels, capable of charging when electricity is abundant and supplying this power back to the grid at times of peak demand.
Alain van Groenendael, Arval Chairman and CEO, said: “V2G implies optimising the EV charging habits by favouring the charging when the demand of electricity is low (and thus electricity is much cheaper and usually much greener) and enabling the possibility of the sending / selling part of the energy that is stored in the EV battery back to the electricity grid (or to the house or the office building). As an example, an EV is recharged during the day (with solar produced energy) or very late at night (when electricity is abundant and cheaper) and part of the electricity is discharged from the battery and sold to the grid in the evening (when the demand of energy is very high).”
Arval has partnered with DREEV (a joint venture between EDF and Nuvve) to bring a commercial V2G proposition to its customers that leads to energy-related savings, while supporting carbon zero electricity generation, “and thus contributing to a more sustainable electric mobility,” said van Groenendael.