Leading by example: ENGIE’s strategy for switching to EV

21st June 2018

As organisations recognise the growing impact of air pollution, many are signing up to measures that will help to mitigate this serious threat to the health of the UK population.

ENGIE, for example, is working with Global Action Plan, the environmental charity behind Clean Air Day, to tackle air pollution head on. One aspect of this is through participation in the Clean Van Commitment (CVC), which is calling on the UK’s top 100 van fleet operators to become tailpipe emission-free in cities by switching to greener vehicles, such as electric.

To that end, in 2017 ENGIE set itself a goal of switching 20% of its 3,000 strong fleet to electric vehicles (EVs) and to have zero diesel vehicles by 2025. As ENGIE’s Corporate Responsibility and Environment Director, Jamie Quinn observed: “At ENGIE we want to be leaders in green mobility and air quality solutions and committing to clean vans in our fleet is one way to make this happen.”

Why did ENGIE do it?

As well as making long-term financial sense for the business, the driving factor behind these commitments was the need to address poor air quality in urban environments, helping to improve lives through better living and working environments.

Crucially, ENGIE delivers services across many towns and cities in the UK and therefore has the ability to make a real difference. Already leaders in renewable energy and smart technology, switching ENGIE’s UK fleet to EVs will have an immediate positive impact on the communities the company serves and where its drivers work and live.

How did ENGIE do it?

ENGIE is taking a number of steps to ensure success:

Fleet Managers as a driving force

The Fleet Manager was ultimately responsible for the practicalities of reviewing and renewing vehicles in the fleet, as they usually would when the time comes to upgrading vehicles.

Investing in infrastructure

As well as investing in the vehicles themselves, the programme for switching to EVs has also necessitated significant investment in infrastructure to ensure access to charging points. ENGIE is investing £600,000  in fitting charging points at places of work and provided charge points for drivers at home for free. ENGIE also acquired the major charging infrastructure company, EV-Box, to enable the service offering to clients whilst building capacity for charging across the fleet.

The same principles apply when working with customers on their EV programmes. For instance, ENGIE is working closely with Transport for London (TfL) in reducing emissions through a range of initiatives, including a switch to electric vehicles (EV). TfL Maintenance Manager David Brooks, for example, now drives an electric Peugeot Partner and has an EV charger installed at his home.

He commented: "The EV charger installation and transition to an electric vehicle went smoothly. The Peugeot Partner electric vans are effortless to drive and the days of filling up at petrol stations before work have become a thing of the past."

Investing in technology that works for ENGIE

ENGIE has invested in Masternaut Telematics technology alongside driver engagement to track their progress. This system was used to track mileage and understand which vans would be suitable for the switch to EV.

Creating a buzz and engaging staff

ENGIE communicated its commitment across the organisation to start raising awareness and secure buy-in. More widely across the business, training packs and videos were provided to adopters, as well as a salary sacrifice scheme for employees switching to ultra-low emission vehicles – creating a positive environment for change.

The challenges

The commitment hasn’t been without its challenges, which have mostly been around perception of a limited charging infrastructure. But these are challenges that have been overcome or are being solved at pace. Common misconceptions about charging and driving range have been dispelled through colleague engagement and are becoming less applicable to current EVs and smart infrastructure.

The benefits

Switching to EVs makes good business sense. There are plenty of long-term financial benefits, including fewer maintenance issue, lower leasing and fuel costs, contributing to reduced whole-life costs.

Moreover, choice of vehicles is growing and investment in them is underpinned by a range of grants and subsidies.

There are also social benefits, as air pollution in urban areas is reduced. As a result, drivers are exposed to lower levels of air pollution every day, and the comfort of their ride is increased. From an environmental perspective, switching to EV can also help organisations hit their carbon-saving and sustainability targets.

As Jamie Quinn puts it: “I believe this is the right direction of travel for ENGIE and the wider business world. The transition away from fossil fuel- based combustion engines through to EVs and alternative fuels delivers major social, environmental and financial benefits.”

If you are a fleet operator keen to find out more about the Clean Van Commitment, email: cleanerair@globalactionplan.org.uk. Useful information can also be found at www.goultralow.com/