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True cost of EV ownership to come under scrutiny

Paul Hollick

The Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) is aiming to create the ‘definitive picture’ when it comes to comparing the service, maintenance and repair (SMR) costs of electric vehicles (EV) compared to their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts.

AFP chair Paul Hollick said that much of the current data and information surrounding the subject was incomplete, inconsistent or contradictory – and that the objective was to cut through the noise to provide something as close as possible to a conclusive guide.

“There’s been an assumption ever since EVs started appearing on fleets that their SMR would be substantially cheaper than petrol and diesel cars and vans because there are fewer moving and wear parts. However, real world data has until recently been in short supply because comparatively few fleets have been operating EVs for any length of time.

“Various sources have been issuing what you might call work-in-progress SMR data over the last year or more, providing a snapshot picture of their experiences with EVs but it has been difficult to build a consistent picture. Some are reporting that SMR profiles are cheaper than ICE vehicles, as expected, but others have seen a more complex picture across different models and types of vehicle, especially when it comes to the wear and prices of EV tyres.

“This is problematic for fleets because it means that they don’t really have access to information that can show whether what they are spending on EV SMR is broadly consistent with what is being seen across the rest of the fleet sector. They have no way of knowing whether their managerial performance is good, bad or indifferent, and therefore no credible route to benchmarking or developing best practice.

“Many businesses are keen to tackle these issues in order to decide whether to bring their EV SMR in-house, something that many of our members appear to be currently considering.”

Hollick said that it was a good time to assess lifecycle costs as a comparatively large amount of SMR EV data was becoming available.

“There are now quite a lot of fleets that now have two, three and even four-year-old electric cars, so we are close to having complete lifecycles on which to base our research, showing how EVs stand up to wear and tear over a period of time, and how this impacts on the amount of SMR they need.

“We’re not really in that situation with electric vans yet – even the most experienced fleets don’t tend to have many that are much more than a year old – but we’re going to aim to provide as much information as we can in that area."

The AFP has appointed an independent consultant to lead the research with initial results expected by the end of September.

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