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Keeping it Green – The next transport challenge for fleets

With more than 50% of the world’s population living in cities, creating efficient, green, and comfortable cities that “work” is one of the great challenges of our time, with mobility playing a key role. The fundamental question for fleet management is how do businesses successfully operate in smart, sustainable cities of the future?

As fuel prices continue to rise due to the cost-of-living crisis, as does the demand for EVs. The uptake is expected to continue rising over the next 12 months and is an indication to fleet managers about the desire to go green, emphasising that the adoption of electric fleets inside metropolitan areas, needs to be a focus.

With cities producing most of the world’s carbon emissions, there must be one eye on the government goal to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030, and the goal for all cars to be fully zero-emission at the tailpipe is in 2035. The green revolution in cities is happening in the here and now and it is important that fleets embrace this change.

A fit for the future of mobility infrastructure

The EV revolution in the transport sector is well under way. Around 1 in 10 new cars in the UK are electric and the government have introduced a host of legal changes to encourage the adoption of EVs. Last year the government confirmed its pledge for zero-emission HGVs by 2040 and more recently unveiled the new EV charging points regulation that ensure smart functionality to help manage the increase in electricity demand. The benefits of smart charging for EV fleets are clear, increased vehicle uptime and saving on energy costs. Given the imperative to act swiftly on global climate concerns and end the sale of fossil fuels in the coming decades, this is a welcome step forward.

The goal is clear: create a holistic mobility infrastructure with easy access to smart chargers. But how do we effectively do this in densely populated areas when you consider in most cities there is becoming less and less space for transport and parking. Parking and charging are intertwined – you must park an EV to charge it, but how can we make sure we manage this in an effective way.

We need to ensure we do not undermine mobility and urban churn, while ensuring parking is still a revenue driver for councils.

Integrating mobility

There are still some barriers for EV adoption in fleets. Research shows that 34% of fleet managers still haven’t introduced any EVs to their fleets. A lack of charging service providers is a concern, as is the limited availability of high-speed charging point infrastructure. The absence of competition and a joined-up strategy between EV charging providers could inhibit the rapid acceleration of the required standardised infrastructure.

However, this is changing. Over the past few years there have been a significant increase in the number of public EV charge points in in the UK. In 2016 there were under 10,000 and in 2022 there are almost 35,000. This means motorists can travel the distance safely in electric vehicles, moving from place-to-place, feeling assured by the knowledge that they’ll be able to top up their charge with ease.

Fleet managers also want the convenience of Plug-Pay-and-Play options, combining parking with charging while they go about their business. To make this a reality, a streamlined digital system is required which allows motorists to pay for parking and charging simultaneously.

We already see this taking place in Scandinavia, and it needs to be a priority for the UK as we seek to mitigate climate change through cleaner transport.

Open-Market and Mobility Data as a Service

While it’s been largely successful and standardised in wider Europe, an Open-Market for parking, where multiple vendors can provide parking services in a location, is only starting to advance in the UK.

An Open-Market for parking would enable the development of a fully integrated and centralised hub for UK mobility. The hub would integrate all sources of data, from congestion, parking, public transport, cycling, EV charging points, and many more to enable a more efficient, data-driven transport sector, with providers and third parties such as fleet management able to securely share and access important information to drive better digital services.

An open infrastructure will enable information on traffic, air quality, parking availability, EV charging points, car performance and much more, to all be connect and analysed in one easy-to-use platform. This holistic overview will also enable local councils to use mobility data as a service and create additional efficiencies and revenue streams.

The rise of the Open-Market and smarter technology will offer opportunities to iron out fleet logistics through better use of data. This is like consolidation in other digital markets—for example, we now use Amazon Prime not just for faster product deliveries but to watch movies, listen to music, download e-books, and more.

It will be easier for the government and public sector to manage an Open-Market, freeing public resources while delivering superior services and value. It is an important aspect of realising the potential of smart, future cities where digitised services meet the genuine need for sustainable mobility.

Think forward, think smarter

As cities continue to grow, it is imperative that fleet managers take a comprehensive, holistic approach when considering how they will operate in smart and sustainable cities of the future. New EV regulations and infrastructure means that more sustainable and greener ways of working can be brought to the fore. We need to promote technological and digitally connected environments that streamline cities and allow businesses, citizens, and local authorities to thrive. For this to be achieved we need an integrated infrastructure and strategy, as well as a centralised mobility hub that can connect various services and provide the gateway to the smart, sustainable cities of the future.

Author: Peter O’Driscoll, Managing Director, RingGo

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