How national attitudes differ towards fleet electrification
The momentum towards electric vehicles appears unstoppable, but there are key local differences
Fleets across Europe are showing starkly different attitudes towards electrifying their vehicles, with priorities varying significantly from country to country, according to new research by Dataforce.
Its survey found, for example, that 77% of fleet decision makers in Germany see electrification primarily as a positive for their corporate image, whereas only 44% of fleet managers in France identified this as an important consideration.
A bigger incentive for French fleets to go electric is cost reduction, cited by 70% of decision makers, compared to just 29% of German and 34% of Italian fleets.
Perceived barriers to EV adoption also vary sharply from country to country, with 83% of Germans citing range, compared to 40% for France. Fleets in the two countries are also at either end of the spectrum in their views on charging times, with 58% of Germans impatient at how long it takes to recharge EV batteries, versus 31% in France.
Where there is consensus is in the recognition of the importance of environmental reasons for switching from internal combustion engines to battery power, with a high level of agreement across France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.
These opinions align with the dynamics of new car sales around the world, as electric vehicle registrations surge while markets struggle with a variety of supply issues, said Marc Odinius, CEO Dataforce (pictured above) at the Global Fleet Conference in Lisbon, Portugal.
Global EV uptake
In Australia, sales of alternative power trains (battery electric and plug-in hybrid) rose by 28% last year in a market up only 7% year-on-year. it was a similar story in the United States, where sales of alternative power trains soared 88% in a market up 10%. China outstripped this performance, seeing a 117% growth in clean emission vehicles to a total of 3.6 million registrations, in a market up 7%. And in Europe, alternative power train sales rose by 57% to account for a 23% share of a static market.
Turning a microscope on these figures, Odinius highlighted how the boom in sales of electric vehicles is shared by private and fleet registrations in Europe, a scenario that is delivering higher margins and profitability to vehicle manufacturers, who no longer need to offer such significant fleet discounts. In China, private sales of EVs dwarf commercial sales by a ratio of about 4:1.
OEMs have enjoyed a further boost to their bottom lines via the new vehicle supply shortage, which has all but eliminated low margin tactical sales and allowed them to focus on higher margin, higher priced electric SUVs, said Odinius.
There is no immediate sign of vehicle supply returning to normal, with vehicle manufacturers continuing to face large backlogs of orders. Mark Howlett, Head of Corporate Sales and Remarketing at Kia (pictured above), said the manufacturer had 250,000 vehicles on back order in Europe alone, representing about six months of sales, with buyers having to factor in an additional three months of lead time for new orders.
“We are having to optimise and prioritise where we sell our cars,” he said. “Private sales are more profitable, but we work in a B2B environment where sustainable business relationships are important for us, and we try to maintain as much volume into healthy fleet channels as we can. We are a fleet partner for today and tomorrow.”
He added that demand for Kia’s electric vehicle range was “only going in one direction,” and that the company was aiming to have a 100% electric vehicle line-up by 2035.
Mercedes-Benz is working to an even more ambitious timeline of being 100% electric by 2030, “where market conditions allow,” said Sabrina Eickelkamp, Head of International Corporate and Direct Sales (pictured above).
She said Mercedes-Benz did not prioritise any customer group with vehicle supply, and confirmed that the manufacturer is seeing global demand for its growing electric vehicle range, especially in China and Europe.
Mercedes-Benz is also focused on building the ecosystem to support electrification, added Eickelkamp, highlighting the fact that the MercedesMe app now gives drivers access to 300,000 public charge points in Europe, and 700,000 worldwide.