Fleet management and car benefit specialist, Fleet Evolution, has rebutted claims that thousands of company drivers of plug-in electric hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) have never recharged their cars, or even taken the recharging cable out of the boot.
Based on its own experiences, the Tamworth-based business, which was awarded Go Ultra Low Company status last year, says that monitoring fuel and power usage on its fleet showed that well over 90% of drivers of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) regularly recharged their cars and used them for the purposes they were intended.
Last week, the BBC reported that tens of thousands of plug-in hybrids bought with government plug-in car grants may be burning as much fuel as combustion-engined cars.
The BBC report said that data compiled by the Miles Consultancy suggested that plug-in hybrids on corporate fleets averaged just 40 miles per gallon, when they could have done 130. Many drivers may never have unwrapped their charging cables, the Miles Consultancy said, and most were choosing the cars simply to benefit from lower tax bills.
However, Andrew Leech, managing director at Fleet Evolution, whose forward order banks from customers now comprise almost 50% of EVs, said that in his experience this simply wasn’t the case.
“In our experience, there is a very good reason why the three-pin charging cable remains in the boot. We provide free home chargers to all our ULEV drivers so that they can charge at home.
“They come with a fast charge cable, which the drivers pay for, so they can recharge at rapid charge points at service stations, car parks and supermarkets. That means they never need to use the standard cable that comes with their car.
“I have a Mitsubishi Outlander as my company car, and the cable is still in the wrapper in the boot. But I charge it very day,” he said.
Leech uses his car to commute to work every day – a 21 miles journey – which is all under electric power.
“When I drive longer distances – and I do around 30,000 miles a year – once the electric range has been reached, the car switches to the petrol-powered engine. But, by driving sensibly, I achieve 45-50mpg of petrol power, which is what the car was intended to achieve.
“It’s a myth that these cars are simply gas-guzzlers. And, I would contend, that this is the experience of the overwhelming number of ULEV company car drivers on our fleet,” he added.
Leech said that Fleet Evolution drivers were always provided with guidance on how and where to recharge their vehicles and how to get the best performance from them.
“We believe driver education is very important and is the key to ensuring that drivers are using their cars correctly, he said.
They were also helped by a growing public recharging infrastructure that made it easier for drivers to find recharging points.
“Recent figures show that 50% of drivers have access to the perfect charging infrastructure – a drive or garage at home. So that means many people can charge their cars without ever visiting a public charge point.
“However, for those that need to, there were 17,701 public charge points in the UK as at September 2018, a 27% increase in the last 12 months. And some 80% of motorway service stations now have rapid charge points available on forecourts for drivers to charge their vehicles in double quick time,” he added.
Leech said that rather than discouraging drivers from selecting PHEVs by abolishing the plug-in car grant for hybrids, which the Government announced last month, more should be done to encourage their uptake.
“Although sales of PHEVs and pure electric vehicles are growing, they still represent only a tiny percentage of all new cars being bought in the UK.
“Like many in the fleet industry, we were dismayed by the abolition of the plug-in car grants for hybrids, and feel that we need clear Government policies that encourage the take-up of the cleanest cars, however they are powered,” he said.