Centrica has introduced a new recharging app, billed as a virtual fuel card to help fleet drivers who need to charge their commercial vehicles while working remotely and while most offices remain closed.
Research by Centrica Business Solutions shows that investment in electric vehicles by UK businesses is set to increase by almost 50% over the next two years, exceeding £12bn.
To help support adoption, the new Fleet Charging Management System makes it possible to plug in to any standard charger, whether at home or on the road and be automatically reimbursed for the charging costs.
It features payroll integration, so that the driver is automatically reimbursed, while fleet managers receive monthly statements, showing all charging transactions. And it can identify and exclude any private vehicle charging on the same charging point.
The app works with any standard charger and is equipped with tariff optimisation, enabling fleet drivers to optimally charge when the electricity rates are low.
For fleets, this ability to access cheap overnight energy tariffs can bring savings that the energy solutions company says can be transformative to the business case for switching to EV. For example, charging a van running 11,000 miles a year using street charging would cost in the region of £2,000 a year. This reduces to around £800 when charging at home during peak hours, and under £300 if charging at night using a variable tariff.
John Hartley, director of product management at Centrica Business Solutions, said: “We are providing the technology that will allow more drivers to charge at home, which has previously been very difficult to administer. But many commercial vehicle drivers won’t have access to off-street parking so it’s important that we break down some of the barriers to access for public charging networks too, making it easier for drivers to charge at home, at the workplace, or on the road.”
The British Gas fleet, the country’s third largest, will be the first to utilise the technology on the back of its rollout of 3,000 new Vauxhall Vivaro-e vans.
Steve Winter, head of fleet for British Gas, said: “To ensure our colleagues are able to charge cost effectively, we’ve begun to roll out home charging points to our fleet EV drivers. This virtual fuel card solution means it’s not just cheaper than petrol and diesel vehicles in terms of fuel costs, it is also easier to administer.”
Centrica Business Solutions is also working with a number of leasing providers will also see the fleet charging management system included as part of an EV bundle, which includes charging infrastructure and installation by British Gas engineers.