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Electric car increasingly a popular choice for SMEs

By Chris Dawson April 3, 2019 - 10:00 am

Arriving today at the NEC for the Internet Retailing Expo, I was greeted by 16,500 car park spaces spread across acres of ground. Parking at the NEC is a joy… but not if you’ve driven up in an electric car and want to get back home again.

Many SMEs are are increasingly reaping the rewards from a switch from inefficient petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles (EV’s), according to Prism Solutions co-founder and CEO Richard Alexander. It makes a lot of sense on so many fronts, not just because you want your business to have environmentally friendly credentials but also from an ongoing cost perspective once the initial investment has been made.

“At only 2p per mile for an electric vehicle, compared to 10-12p for their petrol or diesel counterparts, the business case is hard to ignore.”
– Richard Alexander, co-founder and CEO, Prism Solutions

With over 45 models from BMY i3, to Citroen CZero, Ford Focus Electric and Hyundai IONIQ Electric on the market to choose from, the number of SME’s acquiring electric car is increasing rapidly. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, there was a 21% increase in the number of registrations for electric vehicles in 2018 in the UK. On the roads right now, there are approximately 155,000 EV’s.

Prism have purchased five VW Golf electric vehicles for its fleet both as a company benefit in kind and for use by on the road salespeople. Because electric cars are made of far fewer moving mechanical parts, they have lower service, maintenance and repair costs – as much as 70 per cent less than petrol or diesel-powered alternatives.

There is also a long list of tax benefits and incentives that are available to both drivers and businesses. This includes exemption from London’s Congestion and T-Charges, lower benefit-in-kind tax rates for company cars, Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) on 100 per cent electric cars under £40,000, as well as capital allowances and salary sacrifice regimes.

Prism has installed 3 electric car charge points at the workplace which allow a full charge in around 2 hours approximately, for around 80p in monetary value.

“Employee sentiment is very positive and drivers are happy to commit personally in order to be able to drive them. One Prism employee has made a net saving of £200 per month via a combination of car tax and fuel, which grossed up probably amounts to a real pay rise.”
– Gary David Smith, co-founder, Prism

The saving is derived from benefit-in-kind savings compared to a normal petrol/diesel vehicle plus the removal of private fuel costs as charging can be completed at the office for free and without tax.

There are currently over 16,500 public charge point connectors in the UK, while 96% of motorway service stations now have rapid charge points, which can charge cars to 80% power in as little as 30 minutes…. bad sadly none at the NEC. To combat the obvious shortage in charging points, the vehicles purchased by Prism are not fully electric cars, they are hybrids and therefore only have a EV range of 30 miles, however, 75% of trips completed by the average person are less than 50 miles so its still a great benefit.

Presently, EV charging systems across the UK are still not standardised. Charging speeds, the available chargers, wattage, connections and availability of charging ports all vary significantly. Hitachi have the job of bringing the data from all the systems together and to spot the gaps and identify the bottlenecks in the electricity network.

This year, the UK will be host of the world’s largest trial of electric vehicles. It’s called Optimise Prime backed by energy regulator Ofgem. Around 3,000 electric vehicles will be deployed in the second half of 2019. The Optimise Project aims to open-source the world’s largest electric vehicle dataset, which should help everyone from planners, to grid engineers and SME owners power ahead with the move towards electric vehicles.

In the mean time, if you’ve just arrived at the NEC for the Internet Retailing Expo and want to charge your electric car, there are just two charging points across at Resorts World (formerly Genting) on level B of the multi-storey car park according to podpoint.

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