The environmental performance of vehicles is becoming increasingly significant in the commercial procurement of service or fleet vehicles. This is one finding of Oeko-Institut’s survey of more than 30 fleet operators, which focused on the acceptance of battery electric vehicles in the commercial sector. Around a fifth of those surveyed stated that they are willing to accept up to 20 per cent higher costs for the “green operation” of their passenger car fleet. Nonetheless the combination of purchase and operating costs remains the key criterion in commercial procurement.
The researchers calculated the total costs of commercial fleet vehicles, which – compared to conventionally powered passenger cars – are currently comparatively high. The reason for this is that investment costs are higher for electric vehicles. However, at the same time they determined that the current cost disadvantage will fall to approx. 20 per cent by 2020. In 2030 electric vehicles even have a cost advantage in most vehicle categories compared to vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.
Cost advantages for electric vehicles from 2030
“In view of the cost advantages that electric vehicles in the commercial sector are estimated to have to by 2030, the acceptance of car-buyers is growing,” says Florian Hacker, a researcher at Oeko-Institut and expert on electric mobility. “Our analyses of the usage patterns of vehicles in commercial fleets – which were based on transport data from ‘Kraftfahrzeugverkehr in Deutschland’ – also show that commercial service vehicles cover 13,000 km per year on average. In this way the low operating costs of electric vehicles in particular can take effect, bringing down the total costs.”
The survey of companies was conducted within the scope of the project “Accompanying research for E-Mobility Berlin” [Begleitforschung E-Mobility Berlin]. Oeko-Institut carried out an ecological assessment of the pilot fleet of Daimler AG, which tested the use of approx. 150 electric vehicles by private and commercial customers in day-to-day operation over the past two years in Berlin.
Oeko-Institut’s researchers also analysed the limits of the use of electric vehicles. The greatest barrier in terms of private use – i.e. that the infrequent, long holiday journeys cannot be made with an electric vehicle – is only of secondary importance in the commercial sector. Larger fleets encompassing electric and conventional propulsion systems can react more flexibly to different types of journey: shorter journeys can be made with an electric vehicle and longer ones with petrol powered vehicles. The comparatively long charging times for electric vehicles were assessed by those surveyed to be relatively unproblematic.
One million battery electric vehicles in Germany by 2030
Alongside the analysis for the commercial sector, the researchers at Oeko-Institut also estimated the total potential for the use of battery electric vehicles in the households and commercial sectors in Germany for the next two decades. According to these calculations approx. one million electric vehicles can be on Germany’s roads by 2030, corresponding to approx. two per cent of all passenger cars in Germany. Commercial service vehicles only have a share of approx. five per cent of the total passenger car stock. It is estimated that the majority of the one million electric vehicles will come from the households sector (private use). In spite of high potentials only four per cent of electric vehicles in 2020 and 14 per cent in 2030 will come from the commercial sector.
On the climate protection potential of battery electric vehicles overall, Hacker added: “When all these vehicles are powered by electricity from additional renewable energies, they can save approx. 0.75 million tonnes of CO2 overall. That corresponds to almost one per cent of CO2 emissions of all passenger cars in Germany.”
The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development. Project coordination is carried out by NOW GmbH National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology.
Oeko-Institut’s study “Potential to reduce environmental pressures by making greater use of small, battery-driven electric vehicles within the context of the E-Mobility project” [in German only], funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS)
Researcher, Infrastructure & Enterprises Division
Oeko-Institut e.V., Berlin office
Phone: +49 30 405085-373
Researcher, Energy & Climate Division
Oeko-Institut e.V., Berlin office
Phone: +49 30 405085-337
Oeko-Institut is a leading independent European research and consultancy institute working for a sustainable future. Founded in 1977, the institute develops principles and strategies for ways in which the vision of sustainable development can be realised globally, nationally and locally. It has offices in three cities in Germany: Freiburg, Darmstadt and Berlin.