New fleet entrants kindle new desires. And when the technology under the bonnet is also completely new, perhaps even revolutionary, then drivers generally cannot help but be dazzled. Many fleet managers are experiencing something similar now as they integrate electric vehicles into their fleet for the first time. The car policy should set out in advance who is entitled to such a vehicle, for whom it makes sense in the first place, and how electric cars etc. should be dealt with in particular.
This creates transparency and a reliable set of rules. Advantages that carry all the more weight in a mixed or purely electric fleet. When launching the electric initiative, in particular, agreeing clear lines simplifies fleet management immensely. In order to draw such a line, the question first of all arises as to need and the opportunities presented by tailoring electric mobility to one’s own company. Which vehicle types, whether in terms of design or engine, come into question in which areas? What must they be able to do and offer as a minimum as regards range, spaciousness or equipment? And which requirements have to be fulfilled so that drivers entitled to company cars may or even must choose an electric drive?
The right advice from the outset
For company car drivers this means finding out precisely about the current and potential opportunities offered by electric mobility. After all, knowledge of the market and its prospects is essential to be able to answer these questions. The first point of contact is usually the international key account managers of Volkswagen Financial Services AG and Volkswagen Group Fleet International; of course, the regional key account managers in the respective market are also available.
Once entitlement is determined and the choice successfully made, the car policy should also outline conditions related to the use of electric vehicles. The charging process is especially interesting in this context. For example, the policy could specifically detail behaviour that is conducive to battery life. And it should likewise indicate where and which charging options are available and (co-)financed, such as a Wallbox for use at home. Who pays the electricity costs? Which financing and ownership model is conceivable or prescribed? And how are charging costs at public charging stations billed? Rules about use of charging points in the company car park could also be included at this point.
Attention also paid to plug-in hybrids
The fleet policy is generally also rated in terms of its governance potential. A particular issue that has arisen in this regard in recent months, and which has caused quite a few headaches for fleet managers, is the use of plug-in hybrids. Hybrids are especially popular with frequent drivers, who still worry about range restrictions with fully electric cars. In Germany, for example, purchase incentives and national tax breaks have led to increased demand for company car fleets in recent years. This makes it all the more important to enshrine the electric use of vehicles in writing as only then can the models exploit their full potential in terms of running costs and reductions in CO₂ emissions. The car policy – naturally – represents the tried and tested means of defining the relevant requirements. For example, it could include company-specific bonus/penalty systems, which specifically motivate regular charging of plug-in hybrids.
Over and above that, it is recommended to adapt the disclaimer of liability. No matter how rarely it may happen and how advanced the technology is in terms of prevention: damage to the battery, for example, caused by incorrect handling is a serious matter. The company should protect itself in advance against such eventualities.
Setting and pursuing goals
“The car policy is also ideal for setting out guidelines and objectives in the sense of an automotive dress code – as it was previously referred to belittlingly – such as the targeted level of fleet electrification at the end of a particular decade. This can be important if a green fleet is seen as having the potential to enhance the company’s image. What’s more, a clear vision helps when it comes to calculating other factors such as the required charging infrastructure and fleet costs in general. Once all of these matters have been clarified, fleet managers can indulge their drivers’ desires – as long as they are compatible with the car policy.
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