How has COVID-19 changed fleet predictions for 2020?
At the start of 2020, there were three main topics that dominated predictions for fleet operations in 2020.
These were Brexit, Electrification and Low Emissions Zones.
Each of the issues were integral in shaping future strategy for fleet operators.
But the COVID-19 outbreak has changed all that.
Six months later, we look at each issue and how the COVID-19 outbreak has affected them.
The main concerns around Brexit were the uncertainty around employment and supply chains.
On January 31st, the UK left the EU and had 11 months to negotiate a deal.
With the civil service allocating a lot of its resource to dealing with the crisis, Brexit has temporarily taken a back seat.
There have been calls by industry to postpone the negotiations due to the pandemic.
There is still uncertainty with many fearing that a ‘no deal’ Brexit may happen by default.
Low Emission Zones
In March, a report said that pollution had been cut by a third to a half in cities with air quality lowering to 1955 levels.
Transport for London temporarily suspended the ULEZ and the congestion charge to help key workers and delivery drivers travel around the city with impunity.
This lasted only two months as TfL had to reinstate charges to obtain a bailout and avoid financial collapse.
The concern about air quality has not abated as the damage caused by air pollutants are a major contributory factor in making people more susceptible to COVID-19.
The proposed clean air zones (CAZs) in Birmingham, Leeds and Bath this year, are now delayed until at least to January 2021.
A zero-emissions zone planned for Oxford in December is also postponed until summer 2021, while a consultation in Manchester on a clean air zone due this summer was been halted.
In January, the prime concerns of most fleet managers were –
When does my fleet go electric?
How much of my fleet is going electric?
Now the focus is:
How does my company cope with losses, disruption to services, and retain my workforce?
As EV adoption is a significant financial investment, many fleets are putting off their transition to fleet electrification until they get back on their feet.
But there are views that electrification will fuel business recovery and that infrastructure changes will stimulate the economy.
Another potential roadblock is the availability of vehicles due to factory shutdowns. The construction of Tesla’s new Gigafactory 4 in Germany is suspended and production at battery plants has also been temporarily halted.
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