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Interest in eco-friendly vehicles including hybrids, battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids has surged ahead among UK SMEs according to the latest research from the Arval Mobility Observatory.

For example, so far in 2020, 37% of companies with fewer than 100 employees either already had battery electric vehicles, or plan to adopt them within the next three years compared with just 23% in 2019.

Shaun Sadlier (pictured above), head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, explained: “These results show that UK SMEs are now even more motivated to adopt electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and hybrids than they were just 12 months ago.

“We have been saying for some time that 2020 would be the year during which electric power takes off for fleets of all sizes and these findings show that SME businesses are part of that trend, which helps to protect the environment and reduce emissions.”

The largest advance in adoption came from plug-in hybrid vehicles, where 46% of SMEs either already operate them, or plan to put them on fleet compared to 28% in 2019.

Percentage of SMEs using, or considering the three alternative fuel technologies

Plug-in Hybrid 28% 46%
Hybrid 37% 45%
Battery Electric Vehicle 23% 37%

“There has been a very noticeable acceleration and the reasons for this are, we believe, quite clear. The tax incentives now available for company car drivers, especially the 0% benefit-in-kind rate for the 2020-21 tax year for battery electric vehicles, is a huge attraction.

“Also, we are in the process of seeing a dramatic expansion in the choice of EVs available, especially among battery electric vehicles. Over the course of this year, the number of models available will increase but there will also be a better representation across more segments and price points.

“Finally, while there is still work to be done, the charging infrastructure across the UK is growing all the time, providing reassurance to drivers and their employers that these vehicles can be used practically on a day-to-day basis.”

For this independent survey, 5,600 fleet manager interviews were carried out on companies operating at least one vehicle. The participant list spanned 20 countries including most of Europe and the important fleet markets of Russia, Turkey and Brazil.

Sadlier added: “A couple of years ago, the received wisdom in the market was that both types of hybrid would probably serve as a transitional technology. Instead, the perceived hurdles to battery electric adoption have reduced to a point where they can meet the needs of a wide variety of drivers, although companies also recognise that hybrids and plug-in hybrids will have an increasing role to play in tomorrow’s fleets.”

The Arval Mobility Observatory provides a range of research services and an industry information exchange platform for the fleet and mobility sectors. Aiming to offer objective and accurate information to aid the industry in its understanding of the new mobility paradigm which continues to evolve.

The company operates as parts of the Arval Company, a leading provider of vehicle funding, fleet management and mobility solutions. Arval currently funds more than 170,000 cars and vans in the UK with a comprehensive range of products including vehicle funding, fuel management, short- and medium-term hire, insured lease vehicles and consultancy services.

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