March 8, 2016

Ultra low emission vehicles see record growth

Ultra Low Emission Vehicles set to take 5% of the market by 2020

Sales of ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) reached record proportions last year and look set to hit the Government’s target of 5% of all new car sales within the next four years.

There was a record 28,188 new ULEVs sold in 2015, more than the past five years’ totals combined. The swing to electric and hybrid electric power marked a 94% annual increase compared to the previous year.

Analysis by the Government and the motor industry-backed Go Ultra Low campaign showed that ULEV registrations for 2015 comfortably beat the 21,486 total of plug-in vehicles sold between 2010 and 2014.

Why is demand increasing?

Fuelling the increased demand for ULEVs is a much greater choice of models, with 30 pure electric or plug-in hybrid cars now available in the UK. These range from high-performance sports cars to capable sports utility vehicles, with more new models on the way this year

Last year, plug-in hybrid vehicles proved most popular amongst buyers, with sales of 18,254 new units, a 137% increase on 2014. Fully electric vehicle sales, meanwhile, increased 48%, recording 9,934 registrations.

The UK is one of the fastest growing ultra-low emission vehicle markets in the world with a wider choice of vehicles than ever before. And the Government has now increased its support for plug-in vehicles to £600 million over the next five years in a bid to cut emissions, create jobs and support industry.

South East tops the charts      

The South East of England saw the highest total of ULEVs registered last year at 9,186, each bought with assistance from the Government’s Plug-in Car Grant. The next biggest regions to take advantage of the subsidy were the South West with 4,420 units registered and the West Midlands with 3,371.

Every region of the United Kingdom recorded improved year-on-year registrations for plug-in hybrid cars, while almost all areas of the country experienced growth in pure electric car registrations.

Plug-in bestsellers

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was the best selling ULEV for the second year running, with sales 118% up on the previous year. The Nissan LEAF was second with a 29% increase, while the third placed BMW i3 saw registrations rise 59% up year-on-year.

The Government anticipates that 5% of new car registrations, around 100,000 units, will be ultra-low emission by 2020.

Leading ULEVs for 2015

top 3 ultra low emission vehicles ulev

How can organisations benefit?

For UK organisations that want to deliver cost savings, improve employee motivation and reduce their environmental impact, implementing a green fleet policy which includes a proportion of ULEVs is one route to consider.

A carefully thought through green fleet management policy can deliver significant cost savings and cut the corporate carbon footprint into the bargain.

And a carefully structured approach to green fleet management and vehicle selection can lay the foundations for a fleet which not only delivers lower costs all-round, but also provides significant motivation for employees.

More and more vehicle manufacturers are producing low emission variants with reduced levels of carbon dioxide and other emissions, so finding the right choice is less problematic than before.

Power train choice is key

Specifying that all vehicles should be powered by a single energy source, be it petrol, diesel, bio-fuel, LPG, electric or hybrid, is not the right way forward in building a sustainable fleet policy.

Analysis of the journey profile of the fleets and the attributes of different methods of propulsion and their related benefits should be carried out to identify the optimum types of vehicles required.

For example, it may be that diesel vehicles are perfect for long distance business travel, while petrol engined, hybrid or electric cars are more suitable for shorter journeys.

For those companies which do the majority of their mileage in major conurbations, hybrids or electric powered vehicles may be the most appropriate solution.

An overhaul of the fleet policy to include the latest low emission vehicles can deliver significant reductions in emissions and operating costs. But this should not be introduced at the expense of driver dissatisfaction and reduced operational performance.

Delivering the needs of the business

A green fleet policy should deliver the needs of the business efficiently and effectively.  As a consequence, most successful policies typically adopt a ‘technologically agnostic’ approach, aiming to provide the lowest CO2 emitting vehicles which are right for the job.

While optimising vehicle choice to gain stakeholder and driver buy-in, organisations could also aim to influence driver behaviour to maximise fuel efficiency and reduce accident costs and downtime.

Eco-driving training courses can teach drivers how to drive in a more environmentally friendly and responsible manner to conserve fuel and reduce costs. The introduction of in-vehicle telematics can also help in the identification of driver behaviours that require remedial attention, as well as excessive or inappropriate speeding.

Engaging with stakeholders

The buy-in of potential stakeholders to proposed new vehicles is key to making any fleet policy work.  An employee who resents having a particular vehicle can quickly make even a clean, efficient vehicle perform inefficiently.  A badly driven ‘green’ vehicle can prove a bigger polluter than a carefully driven petrol or diesel car.

Gaining the early buy-in of drivers to a new green fleet policy will make the objectives easier to achieve. And one way is to make them aware of any financial savings available, especially from a tax point of view, as low CO2-emitting cars have the benefit of lower Benefit-in-Kind tax bills and fuel costs.

If you would like more information on putting together a green fleet policy, please get in touch.