How to set up your business for electric company cars

Choosing an electric car can save company car drivers a fortune in tax, but what do businesses need to do to electrify their fleets? Here are five tips to help you get it right...

Dark blue Cupra Born charging

Electric cars are already saving fleet drivers hundreds of pounds each and every month, helped by the fact that tax rates are so favourable and many employers have been quick to embrace the new technology.

It’s a double win for company car drivers, because as well as saving a huge sum each month in BIK tax they also get to bask in the satisfied glow of driving a vehicle that emits no harmful exhaust emissions.

But what about the companies that employ these business drivers? Is it easy for them to switch a petrol or diesel fleet over to electric? Here are five aspects of electric motoring to consider before you go ahead with making the switch.

Dark blue Cupra Born in a car park

1. Make sure you understand staff journey patterns

Everyone is different – and that extends to how people use company cars, which is why it’s vital for both the business and the fleet driver to understand the employee's circumstances. That way it’ll be easier to work out whether or not an electric car (or van) will be suitable.

So what does the calculation involve? Firstly, it's important to know whether the person running the car can have a home charging point (aka a wallbox charger) installed. Most EV owners charge at home because it's more convenient and a lot cheaper.

It is possible to run an electric car using public chargers but it will cost a lot more per mile, so your employees will thank you for also considering have chargers installed at work – see below for more on that.

Understanding journey patterns will also help you to work out whether an EV will be suitable for field-based drivers who spend most of their time out on the road.

Many electric cars and electric vans now have battery ranges of more than 200 miles (some cars can do more than 300 miles), so any driver who covers more than that each day will have to factor recharging into their working day. That will cost them both in terms of the charging fees and in terms of time lost while topping up. Sometimes, an EV simply won’t work.

Read more: The fastest charging electric cars

2. Work out the whole-life cost of a car model

Businesses tend to select models for company car choice lists based on how much their whole-life cost is, not how much they are to lease each month. After all, a car with a low headline leasing cost could end up costing your firm more if it’s really expensive to insure or uses fuel/electricity inefficiently.

EVs tend to have quite high leasing rates (certainly compared with those of petrol or diesel rivals) but their running costs should be a lot lower. Whole-life cost is the accurate way to work out whether or not an EV will end up being the financially astute option for both your employee and the business as a whole.

Our New Car Reviews – which cover running costs as well as many other aspects of a model – are a good place to start your research.

3. Help your employees adapt to electrified driving

Drivers brought up on a diet of petrol or diesel power will find driving an electric car a slightly different experience, and that’s why it makes sense for a business to get their drivers trained to make the most of an EV switch.

There are now companies that train drivers to understand new systems such as regenerative braking plus how to modify the way they drive to gets the maximum out of any battery charge.

Simply recharging a car can make new users nervous, because of the variety of charge points, how much they cost and whether or not they’re even available.

There’s no need for fleet drivers to feel intimidated – training course will point new EV users in the direction of apps such as Zap-Map, which can reduce anxiety about the recharging process. We've found that charging an electric car becomes second nature fairly quickly.

If your business doesn’t want to pay for a full-on training course, a simple information sheet could be the next best thing. You can use it to explain charging speeds and costs, and encourage staff to work out whether a subscription to a charging network is cost effective.

If you have drivers who claim mileage expenses, you’ll need to know how much to reimburse them. From September 1, 2023, the Government has set a rate of 10p per mile, but it could well cost more than that for staff to use public charging. Businesses need to work out how to ensure that staff are not left out of pocket.

Read more: How long does it take to charge and electric car?

4. Save money on installing electric car chargers at your workplace

Businesses can apply for a grant of £350 towards the cost of installing a charging point at a workplace address, and can apply for up to 40 grants across all a business’s premises. See the Government's Workplace Charging Scheme guide for more information.

Once you’ve got your charging points installed, you then face the slightly thorny issue of whether or not you charge staff to use them.

Yes, if you offer to pay for the electricity, more staff are likely to join the world of EVs, but it’ll cost you even more each month. The fairest option is probably to charge staff roughly the same amount they would pay to charge at home – that way you won’t be out of pocket and you might still encourage more staff to go electric.

You also need to monitor exactly who uses the chargers, because you don’t want staff who need to plug in before business trips being unable to do so due to the chargers all being busy.

5. Help your staff choose the best car (or van) for their needs

You're in the right place for help with this. What Car?'s expert road testers have driven all the latest models, and we have many Top 10 car guides to help you select the right one for you. Our Best Electric Cars and Best Electric SUVs pages are a good place to start.

Read more fleet and company car advice

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