A group of parked cars.

A small business guide to electric vehicles (EV)

homesmall business sustainability electric vehicle guide

The shift from petrol and diesel cars and vans towards electric vehicles (EVs) has been on the cards for a long time. And with the UK government planning to phase out the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles, it seems that every driver will need to switch to an EV at some point.

Business owners might have more things to consider than the average driver when it comes to transitioning to EVs.

Whether your business has one vehicle or an entire fleet, you’ll need to think about the nature of your work and your local authority’s policies. You might need to make some changes to the way you operate or to your infrastructure before you introduce electric vehicles. Here, SSE Energy Solution explains everything business owners need to know about electric vehicles.

When does my business need to switch to electric vehicles (EV)?

In 2020, the UK government announced their plan to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, with all new vehicles being fully zero emission from 2035.

Petrol and diesel vehicles aren’t being banned completely; the government rule only applies to the sale of new vehicles. So, you should still be able to drive a vehicle you already own or buy a second-hand petrol, diesel, or hybrid.

With that being said, you should consider the overall sustainability benefits EVs would bring to your business. Plus, the government is investing billions into EV grants and infrastructure, so you might want to take advantage of the financial incentives available ahead of the ban.

Electric vehicle (EV) charging points for business

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Some business owners are unsure about driving electric vehicles because of the cost and availability of charge points.

However, the country’s EV infrastructure is continuously growing. According to Zap-Map , at the end of June 2022, there were over 32,500 charging points, across nearly 20,000 charging locations in the UK. This represents a 34% increase since June 2021.

So while some journeys will need to be planned ahead of time when your business has an EV, businesses shouldn’t feel hindered by the lack of charging points in the UK.

And in addition to the growing public charging infrastructure, businesses can take advantage of the Workplace Charging Scheme and the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme to help towards the cost of workplace and home EV charge point installations.

Electric vehicle (EV) grants and financial incentives for businesses

There are a number of grants and incentives available to businesses who want to transition to electric driving.

Electric vehicle infrastructure grants

  • The EV chargepoint grant for staff and fleets provides funding to install electric vehicle chargepoints in parking reserved for staff or a company fleet for small or medium-sized businesses.

  • The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) is a voucher scheme that provides support towards the up-front costs of the purchase and installation of electric vehicle chargepoints for eligible businesses, charities and public sector organisations.

Tax incentives

  • Benefit in kind tax breaks: If you provide company cars or fuel for your employees’ private use, you’ll need to work out the taxable value and report this to HMRC. The benefit in kind (BIK) tax bands (also known as company car tax) is based on the CO2 emissions of the vehicle. The lower the CO2 emissions, the less tax they’ll need to pay. For example, in the 2022/23 tax year, the BIK tax rate for fully electric vehicles was 2%. In the same year, some higher-emitting vehicles were taxed at 37%.
  • Vehicle Excise Duty (VED): Fully electric cars and vans are exempt from paying Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) , also known as road tax. Plus, fully electric cars are not subject to the £40,000 rule, which sees owners of more expensive cars pay an extra amount each year (£355 per year for the 2022/23 tax year).

For more information on the support packages and financial incentives available for green, sustainable business projects, check out our page here.

Is it more expensive for my business to drive electric vehicles (EV)?

When you look at the initial upfront cost of electric vehicles, they can appear to be more expensive than their traditionally fuelled counterparts. However, to truly understand whether an EV is less or more expensive, you’ll need to carry out a Whole Life Cost analysis.

Whole Life Cost is the term given to the overall cost of vehicles during the time you own or lease them. The Whole Life Cost looks at all of the costs involved in running the vehicles. This includes the acquisition price, level of depreciation, servicing and maintenance, insurance, tax and duties, fuel and charging.

If you work with a fleet manager or a leasing company, they should be able to do a Whole Life Cost calculation for you. But don’t worry if you don’t, a lot of the major vehicle manufacturers have free online Whole Life Cost calculation tools.

What are the benefits of electric vehicles (EV) for your business?

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Driving an electric car or van can bring about positive changes within your business. We’ve listed just some of the business benefits of switching go electric vehicles.

  1. Protecting your bottom line: There are already several financial incentives and grants for EVs. And this isn’t a trend that’s going away. It’s likely that driving a petrol or diesel will become more expensive, especially as we approach the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles.

  2. Creating new opportunities: Legislation for larger businesses means they’ll want to work with eco-conscious smaller suppliers so they can improve their own credentials and meet their targets. So, among other sustainability measures, switching to electric vehicles is a good way to show your commitment.

  3. Enhancing your brand: We know that sustainability plays a key role in the decision-making process for many consumers. Switching to EVs shows your customers that you’re serious about reducing your company’s carbon footprint.

  4. Doing your bit: Small and medium-sized businesses make up nearly 50% of the country’s overall carbon footprint. So by decarbonising your transport, you’ll feel good knowing that you’re doing your bit to tackle the climate crisis.

If you found this page useful, check out our small business sustainability hub for more free tools, tips and expert advice.

Please note, SSE Energy Solutions has written this blog for information purposes only. We recommend speaking to your own business and financial advisors before taking any direct action that will impact your business.