Fleets of all sizes will need support through a potential “sudden 2020 influx” of electric vehicles that is likely to create a vacuum of expertise, says FleetCheck.

The fleet software specialist says that the new zero per cent benefit-in-kind tax rate, the availability of a wider range of models and the momentum created by the Government’s 2035 announcement are all creating a dramatic upsurge in enthusiasm.

Peter Golding, managing director at FleetCheck, said: “The changes in benefit-in-kind taxation are the real crux. Historically, these take a little time to filter through to affecting real-world driver choices but, once it becomes more widely known that they can have a ‘free’ company car by opting for an EV, we expect there to be massive interest.

“Certainly, by Q3 of this year, it is possible to envisage a situation where large numbers of employees are creating genuine pressure to be allowed to choose an EV as their company car and expecting their employer to respond by offering a range of viable choices.

“Right on cue, answering this demand this will be the arrival of a whole raft of new models that sit within the mainstream fleet market such as the VW ID.3 that have genuine showroom appeal and appear to be practical for large numbers of fleet drivers.

“It all creates excellent conditions for EVs to start appearing in fleets in much, much more substantial numbers provided manufacturer supply questions can be answered.”

Peter said that, however, large numbers of fleet decision-makers within companies ranging from SMEs to some large corporates had limited knowledge and no experience of EVs – and that the fleet industry needed to move to support them.

“People who run fleets could be facing a sudden 2020 influx of EVs into their organisations but have little idea about how to acquire and operate these cars. There is very likely to be a mismatch between driver desire for EVs and the available expertise.

“What the fleet sector needs to do at all levels is fill this knowledge vacuum and help these fleets to make a success of their EV adoption because, if their early experiences are difficult, it could dampen their enthusiasm for future adoption and create market resistance.

“What we need to do is provide guidance on everything from choosing the right vehicle for the right driver to checking that an adequate recharging infrastructure is in place around their journeys, and from identifying the best funding package to ensuring safe operation.

“This means everyone from manufacturers to leasing companies to businesses like ourselves have to be ready and prepared to offer guidance and best practice. I believe that this is very much an industrywide responsibility that we all need to take action to meet.

“Certainly, we are adopting a very open approach to sharing our experiences when it comes to fleet use of EVs among not just our user base but anyone with who has an interest. The Government’s 2035 announcement means that, within quite a short period of time, all fleets will be electric fleets, so we have a joint responsibility to make this work.”