Centrica, owner of British Gas, has pledged to be a net zero organisation by 2045 – five years ahead of the previous target and the UK deadline, along with a new commitment to helping our customers be net zero by 2050. At the same time, we brought forward our commitment to electrifying our 12,000 strong fleet of vehicles to 2025. That’s five years ahead of our original EV target and the 2030 government ban on new sales of petrol and diesel vehicles.
In February 2021, we announced a new order from Vauxhall of 2000 all electric Vivaro-e vans for our engineers, building on our original order in 2020 of 1,000 vans. Combined, this represents the largest electric vehicle order for a commercial fleet in the UK.
All 3,000 of these new Vivaro-e vans will be on the road by 2022, with the priority to roll them out first in high pollution areas, where the emissions reduction impact will be greatest. We’ll be ordering more vans from Vauxhall as soon as they’re available.
Chris O’ Shea, Chief Executive of Centrica, said: “Everyone needs to act now to lower carbon emissions and help the UK reach net zero. We are leading from the front by not only lowering emissions for our customers and our communities, but by lowering our own emissions, and by increasing the speed at which we do this.”
Using our knowledge to help customers be EV ready and reduce their carbon emissions
We were early adopters of electric vehicles – beginning our journey to EV back in 2012.
Our commitment to sustainable transport also underpins our goal of helping our customers to achieve net zero by 2050. We’re using the lessons learned from electrifying our own vehicle fleet to accelerate the ambitions of our business customers to become EV ready allowing the business, their customers and employees to benefit from the cost and carbon savings that brings.
British Gas and Centrica Business Solutions have already installed more than 17,000 electric vehicle charge points in UK homes and businesses – ranging from standard 3.5kW charging units to rapid 350kW chargers depending on customer preference. During the next year we plan to install thousands more EV charging points across our residential, small and large business customer base.
To deliver an infrastructure project of this scale, we’re also investing in EV engineering talent by up skilling existing engineers, recruiting new engineers, and creating 1,000 new engineering apprenticeships before the end of 2022.
We know it can be confusing and time consuming to understand how to start your EV journey. We have experts to guide and manage you through the process of installing EV chargers. We also provide flexible finance options and help to access government funding, making the move to EV affordable and hassle free for businesses of all sizes.
The shift to EV is happening now
The adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs) is no longer an issue for tomorrow. The ‘tipping point’ has already passed, as evidenced by UK sales of EVs, which rose by 186 per cent in 2020, while plug in models accounted for more than one in 10 of new car sales during this time .
Transport remains the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK, accounting for 27 per cent in 2019 , so shifting to EV is all our responsibilities and critical to tackling climate change. It makes good economic sense too because electric vehicles are cheaper to run than their petrol and diesel equivalents, while EV technology costs are falling rapidly. Shifting to EV is now achievable, affordable and scalable for all sizes of organisations – not just large corporations with huge fleets.
The transition to low-emission vehicles is central to the UK government’s 10-point green recovery plan and Energy White Paper. A key driver for EV uptake is the plan for many more UK cities to establish Ultra Low Emission Zones to tackle the serious problem of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution from petrol and diesel vehicles. In addition, attractive cash and tax incentives are encouraging early EV adoption. This includes workplace charging grants – up to a total of £14,000.
Working with organisations to become EV ready
One of the ways that we’re accelerating the roll-out of our EV services to customers is to partner with motor manufacturers and dealerships, such as Ford, Volkswagen and Lotus. This involves helping them to meet their customers’ EV charging needs by providing charging infrastructure and aftersales support, together with any preparatory electrical capacity upgrades that might be required.
We’re also delivering innovation in charging software apps and renewable energy supply – including time-of-use renewable energy tariffs – backed by guarantee of origin certificates.
It’s worth noting that organisations who don’t have company cars will still need to have the charging infrastructure to support the move to EV for customers, employees and visitors.
For organisations with vehicle fleets, we provide EV enablement for fleets, whether they have less than 10 vehicles or more than a 1,000. An example of this is our partnership with ABB UK, which is planning to have an all-electric UK fleet by 2025. And we’re powering Manchester’s green buses. A total of 32 fully electric double-decker e-buses have been introduced on routes in Manchester plus another two in Cambridge, helping expand the UK’s public EV charging infrastructure.
Innovating for the EV future
As well as meeting our customers EV needs today, we’re investing in longer-term innovation. One of the challenges we found was the ability for people to charge at home and manage the cost of this. The result is our new virtual fuel card – a fleet charging management app that makes it possible to plug in to any standard charger, whether at home, at work or on the road and be automatically reimbursed for business mileage via smart payroll integration. The app features tariff optimisation, enabling drivers to optimally charge when the electricity rates are lowest, thus improving the economic case for EV.
Joined up approach to business EV planning
We know from our own experience that there’s many factors to consider in making the shift to EV. It’s not simply a case of ordering a battery vehicle and driving it off the forecourt. Before starting the process. Our Guide to installing EV workplace charging, provides you with a handy stepped process to planning and installation.
Putting our EV experience into practice for our business customers
As one of the first businesses to adopt EV at scale, we have first-hand knowledge of implementing a sustainable transport strategy. As you can imagine, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to electrify the UK’s 3rd largest operational vehicle fleet.
We’re in a great position to use our own experience to support businesses in making the switch to electric. This knowledge has helped us to perfect the process of installing electric charge points across workplaces, homes, car parks and other public places.
British Gas and Centrica Business Solutions EV Enablement service brings combines our EV knowledge with an end-to-end managed solution for projects of all sizes – from single chargers for small businesses to complex multi-site fleet EV and distributed energy infrastructure schemes. Our service includes:
- Fixed price energy supply and installation of EV workplace charging equipment
- Flexible finance options for both the charging equipment and installation
- Access to up to £14k grant funding from the OLEV Workplace Charging Scheme
- 3-year warranty on all EV chargers and fully managed service packages
- DNO (Distribution Network Operator) management for power upgrades
- New meter installation managed by our connections and metering team
- Energy supply contract, including competitive renewable business energy tariffs
- Dedicated project management to coordinate the whole process, including managing contractors and keeping in line with CDM regulations
- Smart EV charging management platform for control, visibility and easy driver experience