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What are electric vehicles?

An electric vehicle (EV) is a vehicle that is powered by an electric motor, rather than an internal-combustion engine (ICE), which generates power through burning fuel and gases. There are three basic types of EV: Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) and Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles (MHEV).

Whitepaper: What will finally start the electric vehicle revolution?

In 2020, AX conducted a major survey on UK consumer attitudes and ownership trends around EVs, exploring key information such as the perceived advantages, disadvantages and misconceptions of owning or driving an EV.

In our whitepaper, we explore the results in detail to answer the question: What will finally start the electric vehicle revolution?
AX whitepaper

 

Introducing AX Electric

Even though AX have supplied Electric Vehicles for over two years, 2020 saw a dramatic increase in demand. As a result, we have invested significantly in both fleet and charging infrastructure to ensure we can deliver on our like for like EV promise, whilst continuing to deliver our industry leading service levels.

Between now and the Government’s 2030 ban on ICE vehicle sales, our promise is to support and contribute towards the government’s low emission objectives, by leading the Electric Revolution within the UK’s car rental market and shifting to a predominantly Electric fleet.

We fully support this move and as a result have decided our core credit hire offering must move on as well. So from now on, we will be guaranteeing an EV  for EV on cars and will be striving to offer the same on EV commercial vehicles wherever fleet availability allows. 

AX Electric is the first fully comprehsive and tailored solution for the Insurer and Automotive section and includes:

  • 100% EV for EV guarantee
  • A nationwide EV for EV delivery promise on cars
  • Tesla for Tesla guarantee
  • Guaranteed deployment to an EV authorised and approved repairer
  • Fully charged at Departure – 75 mile minimum charge at delivery
  • Delivery and Collection promise to client’s chosen location
  • Comprehensive vehicle handover, to include vehicle controls and charging guide
  • COVID-19 Compliant handover process completely contact free

Find out more

The history of EVs

While EVs are considered a relatively new technology, scientists were considering the use of electricity to power carriages from the mid nineteenth century.

The first production electric car is attributed to English inventor Thomas Parker, who was also responsible for electrifying the London Underground.

Journeys for early cars were typically short thanks to the vehicles’ abilities and the state of the roads; the majority were confined to the boundaries of the city.

Steam-powered motors could be time-consuming to prepare and heat in preparation for a journey, while early combustion-engine cars were difficult to operate and unreliable. With all of this in mind, electric cars were the more convenient, easy-to-use option.

However, the early impact of the electric car was most prominently seen in the US. The years around the turn of the 20th century are seen as ‘the golden age’ for electric motors, as there was a strong EV presence on US roads. The first commercial users of electric carriages were taxi drivers in New York, which eventually had a fleet of more than 60 electric vehicles. It is estimated that around a third of cars in the US in 1900 were electric, but this was exclusively in the city.

That said, the abilities and accessibility of EVs during this time was limited, and popularity declined due to lowering oil prices and mass production techniques that made combustion-engine vehicles cheaper and easier to use. Road networks grew, which meant there was a higher demand for vehicles that could move faster and travel longer distances.

During the oil crisis in the 1970s, EV popularity saw a slight increase. However, when manufacturers began to revisit EVs in the 1990s, as a result of stricter environmental laws, they only produced a small number of vehicles.

Since then, consumer interest in electric vehicles has grown, due to the introduction of hybrid technology, a surge in technological advances, the rise of Elon Musk and increasing environmental concerns.

Upcoming legislation and its impact

Reducing road transport emissions is a significant challenge, with the UK aiming to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Road traffic in the UK increased by 29% from 255 billion miles travelled in 1990 to 328 billion miles in 2018. In 2017, greenhouse gas emissions from road vehicles made up approximately a fifth of Britain’s total emissions.

The UK government has confirmed plans to ban new ICE vehicle sales by 2030. This ban had initially been planned for 2040, before being changed to a 2035 deadline. However, the deadline was brought forward again in 2020 as part of a new plan to tackle climate change.

Today, around a third of CO2 emissions come from transport in the UK. The ban on ICE sales will help the government move Britain towards the net-zero target. Although banning new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars won’t be enough on its own, the Committee on Climate Change said that if other countries followed the UK, there is a 50/50 chance of remaining below the recommended temperature rise (1.5C) by the year 2100.

Download our Whitepaper - What will finally start the electric vehicle revolution?

Get our free white paper, revealing facts such as, EV buying considerations, attitudes to EVs, charging challenges and common misconceptions about EVs

ax-whitepaper-ev-analysis-01

 

So, what are the benefits of EVs?

Government regulations aren’t the only reason drivers should invest in EVs.

The reasons for owning or driving an EV continues to grow, and with increased manufacturing and improved charging infrastructure, there are more models to suit a variety of budgets, needs and range concerns.

Some of the biggest benefits of EVs are:

They’re environmentally friendly

Arguably the biggest benefit of EVs is that they can help to improve the environment.

Fully electric vehicles do not emit exhaust gases, thus reducing air pollution, particularly in cities where there is a lot of traffic congestion. Over the course of a year, one electric car could save an average of 1.5 million grams of CO2.

EVs can also help to reduce noise pollution. The vehicles are far quieter than ICE vehicles, which means they can help to create a more peaceful environment.

They have lower running costs than ICE vehicles 

Another major advantage of EVs is that they are cheaper to run than petrol or diesel motors.

With the average UK electricity price at around 14p per kWh, on average, for an EV car to travel 100 miles it would cost £4, compared to an ICE vehicle cost of approximately £15.

They are congestion charge exempt

Certain parts of the UK have or are planning to introduce Clean Air Zones, with fees to discourage ICE vehicles from entering particular areas.

However, EV drivers will not be asked to pay these charges.

The Ultra Low Emission Zone in London costs £12.50 per day for cars travelling into it. EVs will be able to travel in both the congestion zone and the Ultra Low Emission Zone, free of charge.

Company car drivers are exempt from paying tax currently

Company car drivers who choose an EV are exempt from paying benefit-in-kind tax.

The zero percentage rate is extended to drivers of pure electric company cars registered prior to April 6th, 2020.

It also applies to company cars registered from April 6th, 2020, provided they have emissions from 1-50g/km and a pure electric mile range of 130 miles or more. Both will then increase by 1% in 2021 and a further 1% in 2022.

EV repair and servicing

EV maintenance is significantly simpler than that of an ICE vehicle, making the process much easier and more cost effective for drivers. It also benefits fleet managers and van owners, as it means an important reduction in cost and resource.

EVs have fewer parts than conventional vehicles, which means that fewer replacements are needed over time. What’s more, all EVs have some form of regenerative braking, which stores energy for more efficient braking. It places less wear and tear on the brakes and generates fewer brake dust particles, which reduces air pollution.

However, brake disks and pads will still need to be maintained over time, as increased torque from EVs can put more pressure on these parts. Tyres may also need replacing more regularly, but that depends on how you drive.

EVs still need servicing as often as ICE vehicles in order to:

  • Check for tyre damage and low tyre pressure 
  • Replace windscreen wipers 
  • Replace brake fluid

EVs also need an MOT after three years. However, repairs should be minimal thanks to EVs having fewer parts to test and no emissions test.Vs also need an MOT after three years. 

The AX electric vehicle customer survey

Last year, we carried out a survey of almost 2,200 UK drivers to find out more about current attitudes towards EVs. This information helped us to identify the key trends in EV adoption and has helped shape our EV short and medium-term strategies.

The survey revealed that:

  • 90% of drivers have never owned an EV
  • 83% of drivers see environmental friendliness as the biggest advantage to EVs
  • 41% of drivers would consider buying an EV in the next two years, but would need convincing.
  • Drivers see lack of charging infrastructure as the biggest barrier to buying an EV
  • There are common misconceptions surrounding charging times and EV ranges
  • Two-thirds of drivers who have previously used credit hire services said they would accept an EV as a replacement vehicle when their ICE vehicle was in for repair

Download Whitepaper

EV replacement vehicles

The growth of alternatively fueled vehicles – including battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in particular – was starting to gather pace from 2019 but there is no doubt it has accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many sectors have embraced the need for more environmentally friendly vehicles, to eventually replace the current car parc of largely petrol and diesel vehicles, but has the vehicle rental sector been slow to make the necessary changes and investment? Perhaps so.

Despite a need to support the government’s environmental objectives, the very idea of EV replacement vehicles following an accident would have been absurd just a few years ago. But with the number of electric cars on the roads rising, and the premium nature of the vehicles being produced, it is no longer a questionable prospect but an inevitable outcome.

Like any customer – or brand for that matter – a like-for-like replacement vehicle is a welcome proposition, and in the prestige sector, alternatives can often feel like a downgrade. But the purchase of an electric vehicle is often a moral or technological decision, so the importance of providing a similar replacement vehicle is greater than ever.

Reflecting demand and sales trends

The vehicle rental and credit hire sector should take note of the changing nature of the new car market.

As of the end of December 2020 there were more than 435,000 plug-in vehicles. Last year saw the biggest annual increase in number of new registrations, with more than 175,000 EVs registered, showing a growth of 66% on 2019.

This was against the backdrop of a decline in passenger car registrations due to COVID-19, according to the latest figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA).

The vehicle rental and accident aftercare sector has an opportunity to show it can adapt quickly to the changing demands of car drivers.

EV uptake in the vehicle rental and credit hire sector

If the credit hire sector is to keep up with sales trends, investment in electric vehicles and infrastructure is essential.

It is impossible to accurately estimate the current size of the credit hire sector’s fleet of EVs, but it is safe to say that it is modest. That is why AX are investing to reflect the national car parc of vehicles, enabling EV drivers to access the same level of service following an accident as anybody else.

Besides the vehicles, AX will be investing in charging infrastructure to enable them to provide vehicles with adequate range to allow drivers to continue their journeys. Alongside fast charging points at logistics hubs, other arrangements, like mobile charging facilities, may be offered to support customers in the future.

So whats the opportunity for dealers, fleets, and insurers?

Drivers of electric vehicles maybe more demanding than ICE vehicle drivers.

They are entitled to a like-for-like service, but what does like for like mean for EV drivers? There will need to be consideration for not only vehicle price and power, but vehicle technology, range and charging requirements will all important factors.

For dealers, providing a replacement EV service, will have a hugely positive effect on the customer experience, ensuring the driver receives a vehicle from the same OEM, which protects the brand and will boost retention in the long term.

Fleets can benefit in a similar way, ensuring drivers experience a seamless accident aftercare service and a comparable vehicle, with the same charging capability, range and payment methods.

An EV service can also support a business’s environmental or CSR targets, supporting their culture and objectives which mandate the exclusive use of EVs on their fleet.

The goals of insurers and brokers will be akin to those of fleets and dealerships: enabling customers to have a positive and seamless accident aftercare service, which ensures drivers remain in a truly comparable replacement vehicle – this is perhaps more vital for electric cars than any other type of vehicle.

Insurance companies, dealerships and fleet managers now all have a responsibility of raising awareness of the benefits of driving an EV to support the government's low emission target. Insurers should certainly be educating their customers in readiness for the transition, by providing products that will allow a seamless move from ICE to EV technology.

Importance of brand for brand in EVs

Brand loyalty in the automotive industry matters to both dealerships and consumers.

For dealerships, customer retention can account for a huge share of sales. Achieving these repeat sales is essential to maintaining profitability. For consumers, choosing a vehicle brand is an emotional decision, often driven by a specific manufacturer catering for the customer’s needs.

When it comes to EVs, owners have made not only a brand decision, but a commitment to an entirely different motoring lifestyle. And once they’ve made the switch, motorists almost never change back to an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle. EV owners therefore have a reasonable expectation that, in the case of credit hire and vehicle rental, a replacement vehicle is not only of the same standard as their own but has the same charging expectations, range and capabilities that they are used to.

How this helps with customer retention 

With competition in the EV market growing rapidly, ensuring consumers remain loyal to the brand is a top priority for dealerships.

As soon as a customer receives the keys to a different brand, there is a real risk of the customer taking a preference to the replacement vehicle, potentially resulting in the loss of that customer to the competition.

In many cases, a new credit hire vehicle will be a newer model than the customer’s own car, and providing the customer with the opportunity to try out the latest product over several days or weeks could lead to a new vehicle sale. For these reasons, credit hire and vehicle rental could be viewed as an opportunity for dealers to offer customers an extended test drive, while their current vehicle is in for repair. This makes brand consistency in credit hire essential for the purpose of customer retention.

AX currently provide a brand for brand promise with Tesla and will endeavour to provide brand for brand on all other models.

Exceptional customer experience

Being involved in a vehicle accident is one of the most stressful experiences a driver can face.

Offering a replacement vehicle of the same brand which meets or exceeds the standards of the damaged vehicle can alleviate much of this stress. It ensures customers are delivered a vehicle they are already familiar with, while ensuring they can be confident that their existing methods of charging will remain compatible.

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Brand loyalty 

Although EVs share much in common when it comes to charging, some brands have specific infrastructure which may well have been the deciding factor behind the consumer choosing that manufacturer.

The best example of this is the Tesla Supercharger network, a comprehensive international charging infrastructure only available for Tesla vehicles. EV owners may rely on being able to access specific charging points, particularly those covering long distances, and therefore rely on a brand-for-brand replacement vehicle. Similarly, ensuring the replacement EV’s range meets or exceeds that of the customer’s car is essential for some drivers and this is guaranteed by replacing a car like for like.

Beyond the practicalities, other factors which may have influenced the purchasing decision for a certain EV brand - such as performance, quality or technology - can be expected by customers in a replacement vehicle. In the case of credit hire and daily rental, consistency is key.

Environmental factors 

As we discussed above, for the majority of customers, choosing an EV will have been an entirely environmentally-conscious decision.

AX’s research shows the environmental benefits to be the number one reason for purchasing an EV, with 83% of consumers citing it as the main advantage. By committing to EV ownership, most owners anticipate they will never need to revert back to an ICE vehicle, including in the event of receiving a credit hire vehicle. Supplying a more polluting vehicle is unlikely to satisfy customers who have chosen to move away from vehicles of these fuel types.

A large proportion of EV owners will be equipped to charge their vehicle from home, benefitting from the convenience of doing so, and profiting from the significantly cheaper charging costs compared to filling the tank of a petrol or diesel car. Lower fuel costs were deemed to be the second-best advantage of EV ownership, with seven-in-ten of those surveyed stating this as a major benefit. Providing a credit hire vehicle which is compatible with a customer’s existing home charge point and uses a similar level of energy consumption is essential.

EVs in the news

Below are a collection of our previous articles about Electric Vehicles

What 2020 drivers love about electric vehicles…and what they don’t

Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming an ever more popular mode of everyday transport. They offer a variety of advantages to both individual drivers and businesses, but some drivers are also wary of ...

Read article

4 Misconceptions about electric vehicles the motor industry needs to address

More and more UK motorists are buying electric vehicles (EVs), and manufacturers are investing more into either beginning or extending their EV ranges.  However, though motorists are gaining more ...

Read article

How fleets can overcome supply challenges

As the mass adoption of EVs gathers pace toward the 2030 transition, it is important that fleet operators look beyond the initial vehicle supply and select fleet service partners who can fully ...

Read article

EV charging infrastructure

Lack of charging infrastructure is an issue that varies according to location, but access to public charging could be a significant problem for drivers wishing to purchase an EV.

At present, there are 13,662 locations with charging stations in the UK.with the number of devices at these locations being 21,535.

Greater London has the most charging points followed by the South East and Scotland; the areas with the fewest number are Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) has allocated funding of £20 million for on-street residential projects in 2020/21. This covers 75% of procuring and installation costs for charging stations with a dedicated parking space where possible.

FAQs

Do you provide fully electric vehicles?

Yes – We now have the largest range of EVs to rent in the UK. We understand the importance in your decision to drive electric and our staff will ensure that your experience is tailored to provide you the reassurance required.

Can you repair electric vehicles?

Yes – We have secured several specialist EV repairers onto our network to ensure we have the necessary capacity and expertise to repair EVs to manufacturer guidelines.

Do you provide short- and medium-term Electric Vehicle rental?

As part of our Corporate and Social Responsibility strategy, our mission is to raise awareness of the benefits of owning, leasing and driving an EV, by offering a flexible approach and competitive rates to allow more people to discover the benefits of driving electric. Please contact us through our EV contact form.

Want some more information?

If you need some more information about working with AX, or want some more information on AX's Electric vehicle offerings, feel free to fill in the form below and we will get back in contact with you.