Is it easy to run an electric car as a company vehicle?

Yes, it's easy enough to go electric with your fleet car (and save a fortune in BIK tax to boot). Here are our six top tips for stress-free electric company car motoring.....

Cupra Born at PodPoint charger

A fleet car needs to be a true multi-purpose vehicle. After all, some days it’ll be trawling the country’s motorways, others it’ll be grinding through city traffic, and at the weekends it could be doing family chores or taking you out for some family fun time.

And you don’t want your life with the car to be hampered by the type of fuel it uses. So, many people will automatically think petrol. Others may ponder the benefits of diesel.

But what about running an electric company car? Is it a realistic option, and how easy – or difficult – is it to make the switch to a battery-powered fleet vehicle?

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Well, it’s more viable than ever, it makes your fleet car cheap to run, and best of all, it needn’t mean radical changes in how you drive or use your company car.

For a start, electric vehicles (EVs) are currently liable for very low, 2% benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax contributions – you can use our company car tax calculator to work out exactly how much you'll pay for your chosen model. Better still, many cars now have rapid charging ability and decent ranges.

All an EV needs are a few minor tweaks to how you use your fleet vehicle on a daily basis. Here are six tips to make that switch to an electric company car as easy and worry-free as possible...

1. Choose your car carefully to avoid range anxiety 

Fleet drivers tend to cover a higher mileage than most, which has traditionally made electric cars a little bit of a hard sell, despite their BIK taxation advantages.

However, the latest models offer much longer ranges than their predecessors, plus the benefit of rapid charging, all of which makes them more viable. Better still, the public charging network is improving all the time (although it's far from perfect).

That doesn’t mean you can enter the world of electric company cars without a care in the world, though.

No, you still need to check whether the model you want has a good enough range, making sure you bear in mind the fact that driving in the real world is somewhat different to the kind of driving used to work out official electric car ranges.

So, if you spend a lot of time on the motorway, you’ll need to remember that driving at high speeds can munch through an EV's battery life. In addition, using the air-conditioning in hot weather can reduce your range, as can colder ambient temperatures in winter.

Once you’ve settled upon a make and model, you then need to choose the spec of your car – and even here you need to be careful. Why? Well, because adding loads of heavy extra kit, or even adding larger-diameter wheels, can reduce the car’s potential range.

Read more: The best electric company cars

2. Become a charging network expert 

The physical process of charging an electric car quickly becomes just as simple as using a petrol or diesel pump. The tricky bit, as many people have discovered, is finding a charging point in the first place.

However, that problem is lessening all the time, because there are thousands of charging connections in the UK now, and the number is going up all the time. There are a few good third-party apps that can help you locate a nearby charger, and the best sat-nav apps can help with finding a charge point too.

Of course, the easiest and cheapest option is to not have to search out a charger in the first place – by having a home charger installed.

If you can’t charge at home, there’s an ever-increasing number of slower 7kW to 22kW public chargers around, usually in car parks and on some streets. They take longer to charge, but work well if you can leave your car hooked up overnight. They’re usually much cheaper than rapid chargers.

Finally, there are fast and rapid chargers (some of which can recharge your car at 100kW+). They tend to be found either at motorway service stations or in dedicated charging stations. They are undeniably quick, but you’ll likely pay a pretty penny to use them.

Read more: How to claim for charging an electric fleet car

3. Get to know your electric car's battery

Running an electric car takes a bit of a different mindset after a lifetime of driving around until the fuel light comes on, then brimming the tank in five minutes.

For a start, it’s best not to let the battery run down too low, because when it runs out, that’s it – you can’t walk to a fuel station, fill up a container and stick it in the car to get you a few miles down the road.

In addition, batteries are at their optimum when working between 20% and 80% capacity. So, plug in when the battery gets to 20%, and unplug when it hits 80%. That might seem counter-intuitive if you have a distance to go, but your battery will thank you in the long run.

It should save you time, because the rate at which a battery can accept charge slows dramatically after 80%, so you end up charging for longer. It’s more efficient to get on the road at 80% and stop again at 20% – doing it this way will reduce your overall journey time compared with waiting for the full 100%.

Read more: The fastest charging electric cars

4. Make charging your car part of your daily routine

Charging your fleet car will certainly cost you money, but there is a way to stop it costing you in terms of time. After all, sitting there waiting for the battery to hit 80% is simply dead time.

That’s why we suggest "grazing". In short, choose your parking spot wisely – go for one where you can top up your battery while you go off and carry on with your day. That way, charging doesn’t really have much of an impact on your life.

For example, if you’re on your way to a work meeting that you know is going to go on for a while, it’s worth searching out a car park with 7kW to 22kW chargers. That way, your car can be topped up gradually and at a lower cost while you’re meeting clients and doing deals.

If you need to top up on the way to that meeting and have some time in hand, a quick coffee or snack stop while your car gulps up a charge at 100kW makes good sense.

And if your work project entails an overnight stay at a hotel, it's worth finding one with on-site charging or, failing that, a charging point in a nearby car park. That way, you wake up to a fleet EV with a full battery.

Read more: The best home EV chargers

5. Make the most of your electric car's efficiency tech

Electric cars are full of cutting-edge technology, much of which is designed to ensure you get the most out of your car’s battery energy, while also keeping you safe and comfortable.

So, most cars will offer a variety of driving modes to allow you to prioritise battery life or performance. Most also offer a system called ‘regenerative braking’, which is designed to maximise the amount of energy recharged to the battery when the car is slowing down. We have a full explanation of this in our regenerative braking guide.

You'll find that many electric cars have a some sort of Eco mode, designed to reduce energy use. Some make more difference to range than others, so it pays to experiment with different settings so you can choose the best mode for each journey you do. 

Read more: The cheapest company cars

6. Use your smartphone to control charging

Most manufacturers of electric cars offer apps that allow you to control how much charge your car accepts, and when it does it. That way, you can ensure your car takes on charge at the cheapest rate available.

By the same token, an app allows you to wake up and make sure your car has enough charge for the journey ahead, and start it charging again if it doesn’t. It helps you to be comfortable, too, because you can warm the interior before you get in on a winter day, or cool it down in summer.

So, an electric car can be cheap and convenient to run, be quiet and comfortable, and can cost you a whole load less in company car tax than fossil-fuelled rivals. If that doesn’t make a fleet EV a multi-purpose vehicle, we don’t know what does.

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