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Is your business EV ready? Simple advice for going electric

There’s a lot to think about if you’re a fleet manager taking your first steps on the road to electrification. We asked CUPRA’s fleet experts to offer their top tips...

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The future of fleet is undoubtedly electric. Whether you’re embracing the wealth of benefits of adding electric company cars to your fleet today, or simply starting your preparations for the looming 2035 petrol and diesel ban (which is only three or four replacement cycles away), there’s no disputing the direction of travel towards EVs.

But there are still plenty of companies that have yet to start their journey on the road towards electrifying their fleet. And perhaps that's true for your business. Taking those first steps can sometimes feel like the hardest of all: with plenty of questions for fleet managers and decision-makers like you to consider when making the switch. But that’s where working with a fleet-savvy brand like CUPRA helps enormously.

Alongside CUPRA’s range of hugely desirable all-electric and plug-in-hybrid (e-HYBRID) models – all of which boast standout premium style, bags of driving character, impressive tech and compelling value-packed trims – you get the benefit of a fresh approach to company cars from a relatively new-to-market brand that likes to think differently (and better) about fleet.

There’s also the depth of dependability that comes from CUPRA being part of the larger Volkswagen Group. Alongside the core CUPRA for Business fleet team, CUPRA offers a  network of 60 dealers which includes a number of fleet specialists and 120 CUPRA service centres – ensuring that you and your company car drivers can find quality fixed-price support for your electric and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles wherever and whenever you need it, whether it’s for annual servicing, regular maintenance or in an emergency.

“CUPRA is in an almost unique situation,” says CUPRA Contract Hire and Leasing Manager Martin Gray. “We’re a relatively new brand, so we have that sense of being different and dynamic, like a disrupter. But we’re underpinned by being part of the Volkswagen Group. That means quality cars that inspire confidence, with great residual values. We also have the benefit of a comprehensive infrastructure across the UK for sales, service, maintenance and repair, which puts us well ahead of some of our newer rivals in terms of ensuring we’re always there to support our customers.”

That’s why we thought we’d pick the brains of CUPRA’s fleet experts to find out the top things you should be thinking about before starting your electric fleet journey.

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1. Understand where you sit on the electric journey

The first thing to consider when plotting your path on the road to electrification is that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. You could have a large fleet and be looking to trial one or two electric cars to see the benefit. Or you could be a small business looking to go all-electric all-at-once. The key is to move at a pace that suits you.

“Every business is uniquely different and is at a different stage of its journey towards electric car adoption,” adds CUPRA Area Fleet Manager Jeremy Young. “Some fleets are fast-tracking their plans for electrification. Others want to go at a slower pace. It’s very much bespoke to each individual business.”

That’s why CUPRA offers several flexible levels of support to help businesses and fleets of all shapes and sizes make the electric switch. This includes a dedicated CUPRA for Business fleet team consisting of a National Fleet Manager, a National Contract Hire and Leasing Manager, and four Area Fleet Managers, all of which work to support fleets upwards of 150 cars. Plus they have two desk-based Fleet Account Managers who look after businesses with fleets of  less than 150 cars. This is as well as 12 CUPRA Business Centre fleet specialist retailers that sit within CUPRA’s 60-strong dealer network to support businesses more directly at a local level.

Equally, every member of CUPRA’s fleet team in the field has completed intensive EV training with strategic consultancy Zero Carbon Futures, leading to the Galileo Master Certificate – the internationally recognised certificate in the renewable energy industry.

“We’re flexible with how we cover fleet requirements across our team, so customers can move up and down the tiers, depending on their requirements and how their fleet flexes,” says CUPRA’s National Fleet Manager Justin Costello. “But ultimately, we can cover everything from one electric company car to one thousand.

“Rather than walking in with a pre-made solution, it’s very much about listening to the customer, understanding their particular objectives or challenges, then helping them to define a unique solution that works across a range of different areas of their fleet. Crucially, we also try to keep things simple: avoiding jargon or buzzwords.”

Read more fleet and company car advice

CUPRA Born charging at public charger

2. Focus on the big business benefits of going electric first

Adding electric company cars to your fleet will almost certainly be easier than you think. But it’s also worth acknowledging that it will also require a change in mindset for both you and your company car drivers, as well as an up-front investment in terms of your time, resource and focus as well as your fleet department’s finances.

That’s why it’s important to focus on the big benefits of going electric first, rather than getting bogged down in worrying about some of the smaller details.

Perhaps most obviously, it’s understanding the clear financial benefits of an electric car: particularly the lower total cost of ownership that comes as a result of reduced running costs from cost-effective home or office charging, as well as the lower operating costs of servicing, maintenance and repair that come with electric cars. All combined, these long-term cost-savings balance out any larger initial investment.

But it’s also worth considering the enhanced sustainability credentials for your business that come with running an electric fleet, as well as the positive PR and feel-good factor of lowering your business’s impact.

Man walking away from CUPRA Leon Estate in car park

3. Treat electric cars as a real perk for fleet drivers

Company cars have always been a reward for your employees’ hard work, and act as a key retention tool for your HR team. So, it’s important to present the many plus points of running an electric car to your fleet drivers – especially those who may not see the perks of going electric, or who may be reluctant to make the switch.

Equally, once you’ve created a community of electric-savvy company car converts within your business, use them as ambassadors and advocates to convert other drivers. Because there are lots of clear benefits to going electric.

First, all-electric cars like the CUPRA Born or the upcoming CUPRA Tavascan are quieter and more relaxing to drive. Thanks to the smart design of modern all-electric battery packs, they don’t compromise on space or practicality, making them just as practical to use as a petrol or diesel car for a personal or family vehicle.

Modern electric cars like the CUPRA Born or CUPRA Tavascan are also packed with the latest technology: especially always-online connectivity for enhanced navigation and infotainment, as well as driving aids that make journeys less stressful and much safer. Equally, CUPRA’s electric cars don’t compromise on the fun of driving, thanks to their sporty handling character and their impressive all-electric acceleration.

“For company car drivers, their car is probably the most valuable benefit they get after their salary, so it’s a really important decision,” says Justin. “They want it to be useful, and something they really love. Luckily, all-electric CUPRA models like the CUPRA Born or the upcoming CUPRA Tavascan should tick all of the boxes. They’re desirable. They stand out. They look different; they look sharp; they let you express your individuality. The technology in the cars is really good. They’re really practical. They’re really great quality. And they’re also amazing to drive.”

As electric cars become more affordable, they’re dropping into more achievable bands for more employees. For example, thanks to an ultra-low benefit-in-kind (BIK) rate of 2% and a P11D list-price starting from £36,420, a company car driver in the 20% tax bracket could pay as little as £12 a month for the privilege of driving the all-electric CUPRA Born, while a 40% tax bracket earner would pay just £24.25 a month.

Then, factor in the reduced running costs of an electric car: whether it’s zero road tax, cost-effective home charging or exemption from ULEZ ultra-low-emissions zone and CAZ clean-air zones. “Picking a plug-in hybrid or an all-electric company car can bring a driver’s benefit-in-kind burden down substantially,” says CUPRA Area Fleet Manager Mark Penny. “But you’re not only reducing your BIK bill, you’re reducing your running costs and getting access to the latest technology. It’s a win-win situation.”

Read more fleet and company car advice

CUPRA Born driving on road front three quarters

4. Try an electric car for yourself

Let’s face it. As a fleet manager, you and your company car drivers have probably got a lot of questions around the actual day-to-day practicalities of making the switch to driving an electric car, as well as a few misconceptions to conquer – especially those myths that have permeated the broader narrative around range and charging.

CUPRA’s online Virtual Showroom can certainly answer some of those initial queries and concerns, with experts on-hand to give you a uniquely personal interactive walk-and-talk tour around all-electric models like the CUPRA Born or plug-in-hybrid (e-HYBRID) CUPRA Formentor (more on them in a minute…).

You can also use CUPRA’s EV&me smartphone app to record and collate your most common journeys in any car. It will then present you with the potential cost savings that you could make by swapping to an all-electric or e-HYBRID CUPRA – a great way of convincing the electric naysayers in your company car-eligible roster.

But probably the best way to answer a lot of those questions around electric driving is for you (or your company car drivers) to try the technology out for yourselves.

After all, there’s nothing like experiencing an electric car first-hand from behind the wheel for an extended period to really see the benefits and solve some of the common worries around hot button topics that still dominate the electric narrative.

“One of the blockers that I’ve had recently is problems with the UK’s public charging infrastructure,” says Mark. “There’s a lot of negative press and preconceived expectations around charging, which means people think it’s no good. But experiencing it is absolutely crucial. Drive an electric car. Experience it. Try charging it at different charge points over a few days. You’ll soon understand how easy it is.”

That’s where CUPRA’s unique CUPRA Experience demonstrator programme comes in. “With our CUPRA Experience corporate demo programme, we’ve got a fleet of around 80 cars which we can send to a work or home address, letting you and your driver’s test drive and experience a car for a number of days,” says CUPRA’s National Fleet Manager Justin Costello. “You can experience a pure electric car like the CUPRA Born, one of our plug-in hybrids or mild hybrid, and even petrol-powered vehicles to compare and contrast.”[1]

CUPRA fleet range parked in car park

5. Don’t be afraid to pick and mix

Although the direction of travel is towards an all-electric future, going all-electric right away all-at-once might not be the right solution for your business, or for your drivers. “Some company car drivers might be doing 20 miles a day; others might be doing 200 miles a day,” says Mark.

That’s where CUPRA’s comprehensive range of plug-in hybrids comes in. Models like the CUPRA Leon e-HYBRID hatchback and estate and the CUPRA Formentor e-HYBRID SUV offer plenty of zero-emissions-at-tailpipe electric range for short local journeys, but balance that with long-range hybrid efficiency and the convenience of easy petrol top-ups for your longer trips – whether they’re for work or pleasure.

“Most of the fleets that we deal with are largely plug-in-hybrid,” says CUPRA National Fleet Manager Justin Costello. “But you can see how things are also moving towards mainly electric – with a small number of petrol cars for people who perhaps can’t charge at home. However, plug-in-hybrids are still an important part of the mix. It’s about finding the right type of vehicle for the right use for the right driver.

“Total mobility is the future kind of solution that everyone is moving towards. An all-electric car might be the right vehicle 98% of the time. But, for those occasional trips where you drive all the way down to Cornwall or all the way up to Scotland, it probably isn’t the right vehicle. So, you hire a vehicle for that trip. You manage by exception, rather than closing yourself off to an electric car for your fleet.”

And that’s the key. All fleets will have to switch to all-electric company cars at some point. But the journey isn’t inflexible. And that’s where having compellingly desirable and dependable electrified cars, comprehensive UK-wide support and the wealth of invaluable, clear and plain-spoken help and advice that comes from the CUPRA fleet team matters.

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[1] Subject to T&C’s

Figures shown are for comparability purposes and were obtained after the battery had been fully charged. Mains electricity required for charging. Only compare electric range figures with vehicles tested to the same technical procedures. Figures may not reflect real life driving results.

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