Many operators are currently looking to procure all-electric vehicles for short, high-volume journeys with lower payloads, in urban areas where they can more easily be recharged.
At the same time, these businesses find they can make a rapid switch to electric by using flexible rental or contract hire, which gives them access to zero emission vehicles without the capital outlay required to purchase outright.
An example of a company which offers electric vehicles for contract hire is Fraikin, which recently supplied the first of 24 new all-electric trucks to chilled food supplier Reynolds, to be used for multi-drop delivery routes around Bristol and Bath.
The new 7.5-tonne temperature-controlled rigid, which joins a 212-strong mixed commercial vehicle fleet, features an Isuzu chassis specifically adapted by electric drivetrain specialist Magtec, with a bespoke body from Paneltex.
It is signed to a five-year, full-service contract hire agreement, including all repair, maintenance and servicing at Fraikin’s network of UK workshops.
The new vehicle, which requires a seven-hour overnight charge, is on the road six days per week, covering between 90 and 100 miles a day, well within the 140-mile range from a single charge.
Over the next three years, Fraikin plans for it to be joined by a further 23 electric vehicles.
They include 10 new 4.5-tonne vans, 10 more 7.5-tonne trucks, a 26-tonne and 19-tonne rigid, and an all-electric DAF tractor unit into operation by 2025.
Steve White, Head of National Fleet at Reynolds, said: “Improving the sustainability of our fleet by making the shift to electric has been a long-term plan for the business, but we needed a partner capable of supporting us on that journey.
“[Fraikin] are ahead of the curve when it comes to alternative-fuelled options, with unrivalled industry experience and product knowledge combined with a level of flexibility that helped us to take the first step.”
Commercial vehicle rental provider Europcar Mobility Group UK recently took delivery of a fleet of 100 new LEVC VN5 electric vans, available at its depots across the UK.
With a pure EV range of over 60 miles and a total flexible range of 304 miles VN5 can achieve a 76-mile pure EV city range, and is available for long-term rental.
Ron Santiago, Managing Director at Europcar Mobility Group UK, said there are still concerns from some operators that electrified vans may not be able to meet the high-pressure demands of businesses, with uncertainty about the range they can offer.
“The addition of the VN5 addresses an urgent need amongst commercial vehicle users”, he said.
“Available as part of our long-term rental solutions, it means businesses have the flexibility to ‘try before they buy’, without having to commit to lease or outright purchase, giving them the chance to really understand how electric will work for them and their drivers.
“Long-term rental of the VN5 also provides important financial flexibility while the UK economy remains uncertain.”
Reflex Vehicle Hire recently ordered a batch of Mercedes-Benz eVito zero-emission vans, for its customers throughout the UK.
To help operators make the switch to electric, the company provides Electric Vehicle Information Exchange (EV:IE), a fleet evaluation service that provides detailed wholelife cost comparisons between fossil fuel fleets and their EV equivalents.
Total cost of ownership analysis includes recharging costs and compares EV range to current mileage patterns, based on fleet and telematics data.
In addition, the Reflex Renewable Drive vehicle evaluation programme has enabled fleet managers to get behind the wheel of the latest electric vans to inform their strategic decision-making.
Lisa Spong, Sales Director at Reflex Vehicle Hire, said: “While diesel continues to be the mainstay of many of the van fleets that we provide vehicles to, interest in electric vehicles has reached a tipping point, with soaring demand driven by government policy and rising fuel costs.
“We are working closely with fleet customers to ensure a smooth transition strategy without impacting their core business operations.”
Northgate Vehicle Hire is taking delivery of 350 Mercedes Benz e-Vito electric vans during 2022, part of its fleet electrification drive titled Drive to Zero.
This includes fleet suitability analysis, charging solutions via Northgate’s charging sister company ChargedEV, and servicing, maintenance and driver training support.
The new e-Vito has a range of up to 162 miles and comes with DC rapid charging ability of zero to 80% in 35 minutes.
“In line with the Government’s deadline for new pure internal combustion vehicle sales ending in 2030, Northgate has been committed to ensuring that our customers are fully supported by us in advance of this,” said Neil McCrossan, Sales and Marketing Director at Northgate Vehicle Hire.
“We understand that for businesses, a lack of interruption is key while undergoing any fleet transition, and electrification is no different.”
Meanwhile, construction equipment hire specialist Speedy is adding 100 Ford E-Transit 4.25-tonne single-chassis cab models and 50 E-Transit 3.5 tonne E-Transit vans to its fleet as part of an £8.25m investment.
The firm wants more than half of its 1,100 strong commercial fleet to be electric or hybrid by 2025, and to have a fully low-carbon fleet by 2030.
Electric vehicle rental or flexible contract hire can give those keen to make the transition the opportunity to see how an electric van or truck can fit into their working lives, without committing to a purchase.