Overcoming barriers to fleet electrification

19 May 2020

Prior to lockdown Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) partner, Pivot Power, and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) held a workshop to help Oxfordshire-based businesses overcome barriers to fleet electrification.

While capacity connection costs and lack of vehicle supply and choice emerged as two of the main obstacles, the overriding message was that solutions exist and are available now to help fleet operators go electric.

The workshop explored options for removing or overcoming common barriers to fleet electrification. By the end of the event, most participants said they felt better informed and more confident about electrifying their fleets.

Attendees heard from Oxford City Council, who are committed to electrifying 25% of their 330 vehicle fleet by 2023, as well as industry experts Gnewt, Octopus Investments and Pivot Power.

Outsourced logistics

One immediate option to overcome lack of suitable vehicle supply and choice is for businesses to outsource delivery requirements to companies that already operate an electric fleet. Gnewt is a fully electric last mile delivery service with a 120 strong fleet of electric vehicles. The company is expanding its network outside of London and offers multi-drop last mile logistics solutions for third-party logistics companies and retailers.

One of its largest customers is online retailer ASOS, for whom it provides a warehouse to customer delivery service across London. The company guarantees last mile emission-free delivery, enabling it to reach customers throughout the Congestion Charge and Ultra-Low Emission Zones. Gnewt also offers a unique parcel consolidation service to reduce congestion and improve local air quality.


Octopus Investments is helping transport fleets move to zero emission vehicles by delivering transport as a service: a solution that covers investment in vehicles, energy infrastructure, vehicle telematics and energy supply; with repayments based on the benefits of using the fleet through pay-as-you-drive. Their offering is designed to help businesses of all sizes transition to electric vehicles while minimising risk and complexity, complying with legislation, and optimising cash-flow and value.

Octopus Investments recently signed London-based recycling business First Mile as a customer, providing it with electric vehicle charging infrastructure installation without the initial cost burden. First Mile began switching to an electric fleet in 2017, initially with cargo bikes and shortly after with its first electric vans. The company has since added a further five electric vans to its fleet.

Private wire networks

For larger fleets accessing enough power to charge vehicles quickly and reliably can be a major – and expensive – issue. It’s important to identify the different options for increasing power capacity and think about long-term requirements.

Pivot Power can help businesses to overcome local network constraints by connecting to a private wire network which draws power straight from the high-voltage transmission network. It’s an alternative approach to increasing capacity with the Distribution Network Operator and offers a flexible, reliable solution that delivers multiple megawatts of scalable power combined with future price certainty.

The first of these private wire networks is being installed in Oxford in partnership with Oxford City Council, as part of ESO.

Common understanding

Oxford City Council highlighted the importance of planning ahead and taking the time to fully understand different user needs. ESO has allowed the Council to evaluate its existing fleet and assess its strategy for electrification based on usage, range, emissions, costs and suitable electric replacement. This includes how drivers react and adapt to EVs, what measures are required to enable buy-in, and recommended roadmaps to maximise electrification.

Whatever route fleet operators take, success will rely on positive engagement with multiple stakeholders. Not least between energy and transport teams, who must work closely to understand and manage the impacts and benefits of fleet electrification.

Denise Beedell, Policy Manager, FTA commented ‘Changes in transport and energy are creating new opportunities for fleet operators and the key to success is collaboration. The FTA is here to help our members lead the UK’s zero carbon transition, unlock competitive advantage, comply with legislation and most importantly, create value from the EV transition.”

If you would like to receive a copy of the presentations from the workshop please get in touch.


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