14 November 2019
Mainstream electric and alternatively fuelled vehicle adoption will only be achieved if businesses are given financial confidence and policy support to invest in new technologies, rather than relying on consumers to lead the way. The argument comes as new insight from the AA and Rivus Fleet Solutions, released today (14 November 2019), shows employees are likely to be more favourable than owner-drivers when it comes to jumping into a new electric vehicle (EV), due to the lower perceived personal cost and risk.
Along with reinforcing known barriers to EV adoption, including outright cost, range anxiety, perceived lack of charging infrastructure and a feeling of insufficient model choice in the market, the research also highlights an important gap between perceptions of operational fleet managers and their drivers regarding the benefits of electrification. The findings were revealed at the launch of the Operational Fleet Report 2019/20, the fourth iteration of research jointly commissioned by the AA and Rivus Fleet Solutions through research consultancy Populus.
While more than half (57%) of fleet decision-makers surveyed for the report thought their drivers would like to drive an electric vehicle, just 1% of consumers in an AA Populus Driver Poll expressed a desire to purchase an EV within the next 12 months. The numbers were higher in the Operational Fleet Report study when there was no time limit, with 13% suggesting they would choose an EV as their next vehicle. However, concerns around charging infrastructure and cost continue to be cited as barriers to entry.
Although there is a distinction between driving and owning a vehicle, the research suggests there is an education job to do to align perceptions of individual drivers with business preference towards electrification. The future is positive, however, with more than half (54%) of consumers interviewed suggesting they would be interested in having an EV at some point and only a third (33%) worried that an EV wouldn’t have enough range for their daily needs.
Fleet operators interviewed in the research suggested drivers were responding positively to the EV driving experience, with comments about a smoother, quieter driving experience often repeated. One of industry experts interviewed for the report advised once you get a driver into an EV, they don’t want to go back to diesel. In addition, three quarters (73%) of those surveyed felt EVs could be better for drivers’ health than diesel or petrol vehicles.
The future is looking positive, with both fleets and consumers open to investing in EVs
Stuart Thomas, Director Fleet and SME at the AA, commented: “While we would expect to see differences in perception of EVs between consumers and those fleet decision-makers entrenched within the automotive sector, for the difference to be so stark was interesting. It suggests there is a culture and education job to be done in order to embed EVs successfully within organisations.
“We would also expect to see the shift in ownership models make a difference to how quickly individuals adopt alternatively-fuelled driving, if not the purchase itself. The future is looking positive, with both fleets and consumers open to investing in EVs. We were also pleasantly surprised to find that three quarters of fleet decision-makers felt EVs would be beneficial to driver health. There is definitely an opportunity for those who manage people and their vehicles to take a much more holistic look when deciding where to focus fleet budgets in the future.”
The Operational Fleet Report 2019/20, jointly commissioned by the AA and Rivus Fleet Solutions through research consultancy Populus, can be downloaded from:The Operational Fleet Report 2019-20 (pdf)