Green agenda set to gather pace for companies with vehicle fleets

If any good can come from the global lockdown, it’s the positive impact on the environment.

Air pollution has dropped to unprecedented levels across the world as major cities and countries impose lockdown measures.

As we stay inside, the environment is temporarily changing, with wild animals photographed roaming the streets, images showing the water in Venice to be clear and, in places like Punjab in India, city residents saying they can now see the snow peaks of the Himalayas; a view that has been blocked by air pollution for decades.

According to Paul Monks, professor of air pollution at the University of Leicester, ‘We are now, inadvertently, conducting the largest-scale experiment ever seen. Are we looking at what we might see in the future if we can move to a low-carbon economy?’

But will this bring about a new social conscience and change our attitude towards the environment permanently?

Lee Brown is the Grosvenor Group’s leading advisor on green issues, heading up the company’s 0Zone solution, and he believes it will. 0Zone is the innovative green solution that helps businesses make the smooth transition to ultra-low emission and electric vehicles.

Since its launch in 2017, 0Zone has helped many companies reduce their emissions, an example being at Tata Steel where plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles now make up almost 20% of the vehicle fleet, The total annual carbon emissions has reduced by 12.3%, and the average CO2 is down to 98.99 g/km, a movement of -11% and despite the introduction of the higher WLTP CO2s.

As a result, their annual fuel costs have fallen by over a quarter of a million pounds, a saving of 10.6%.

Most recently, the 0Zone proposition has been broadened to cover three key areas associated with operating a greener fleet. These are the environmental, financial and operational implications, with Lee and his team working closely with companies to find the optimum combination of all three.

“Moving to alternative fuels, and reducing emissions, isn’t as simple as just adding EVs and plug-in hybrids to your vehicle choice list,” said Lee.

“There are ramifications across the business which need to be carefully considered and analysed.

“Take, for example, the financial impact. Electric vehicles generally have a higher on-the-road price, but a lower whole life cost, and the true price forecasted across a number of years has to be mapped out.

“There is also the tax position, for both company and driver. Full electric vehicles currently attract zero benefit-in-kind (and Zero Employers NI) which makes them hugely attractive. We are consequently seeing salary sacrifice for company cars back on many company’s agendas as they determine the best strategy for moving to alternative fuels.

“Having been a bit dead in the water in the company car sector, salary sacrifice appears to be making a sudden resurgence because if employees opt to sacrifice a part of their salary and, instead, have a sub 50g/km company car, the financial benefits for both employee and employer are looking particularly strong.

“However, when we talk to companies about their green strategies, it’s a completely tailored approach as one hat never fits all.

“Take Glenmorangie Whisky for example. When they began striving towards a zero-emission fleet policy, they needed to consider their drivers who travel in the Scottish Highlands as it can become more challenging in the winter months.

“We therefore looked at 4x4 off-road options for some vehicles. We also mapped out the availability of charging points in the key locations where their drivers travelled, and the number of servicing garages for ULEVs and EVs, before making our final recommendations.

“Getting your company vehicle policy wrong may also restrict where your drivers can travel. In some cities, higher emission cars won’t be allowed into the clean air zones or will be charged for entering. This has to be factored in from an operational perspective when reaching decisions so that companies do not find themselves ordering cars today that will be banned from key areas during their time on fleet.

“Prior to lockdown, we were already having these sorts of conversations with company directors and fleet managers, and we had particularly good feedback from drivers at Weetabix about their company car policy and future choices.

“They were looking at ways of improving their vehicle policy, to offer drivers better choice and move towards ultra-low emission and electric vehicles.

“Keen that all changes were fully communicated, Weetabix asked us to run a video conference workshop with 50 of their drivers. This resulted in their new policy being successfully launched based on whole life costs, improved choice and lower emissions.

“Now that social awareness of the environment has never been higher, I am certain we will see a real surge in businesses looking more closely at implementing alternative fuel strategies for their fleets.”

Lee Brown is Finance Director of Interactive Fleet Management, as well as heading up the Grosvenor Group’s 0Zone solution.

Lee Brown, Leading advisor on green issues
Lee Brown, Leading advisor on green issues

For more information about 0Zone, please call us on 01536 536 536.