The Spring Budget is to be delivered on the 15th March 2023. Fleet operators are looking at the statement with hope as it can deliver goods news and support the industry with its goal to decarbonise. We spoke to Peter Golding, Managing director, FleetCheck about what the Spring Budget could and should deliver and what the biggest issues facing fleet operators are today.
- What are the problems you see in the fleet sector today that can be dealt with, with the help of the government, and should get a focus in the Spring Budget?
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Fleets are really facing two key issues. The first is rising costs, especially around fuel for both ICE and electric vehicles but also including buying commercial vehicles themselves and purchasing key maintenance elements such as tyres and parts. The second is around moving to zero emissions. It is becoming clearer that there are some operational difficulties with electric vans that are not easily solved and are slowing adoption, while hydrogen infrastructure to support larger vehicles is almost non-existent.
- What positive steps have been taken?
There remains support for van electrification in terms of grants but these are clearly not providing the degree of momentum that we’d all like to see. Also, fuel duty was discounted by five pence per litre for 12 months up to the end of this month in the 2022 Budget.
- What are the easiest points that can be improved quickly?
Really, we need to see an incentive programme in place for van electrification that provides the same kind of impetus to the market as seen for company cars. While fleets are generally supportive of the move to electric vehicles, further support will help them to overcome practical considerations. In terms of fuel, a renewal of the five pence discount in duty or even a further reduction would be the most obvious move that could help fleets in the short term.
- How about the more strategic ones?
If there are difficulties surrounding electrification of smaller commercial vehicles, then the whole issue of hydrogen powered larger vans and trucks seems to be suffering from a complete lack of attention. Although private sector plans were recently announced to extend the refuelling infrastructure, it remains small, and there appears to be a general lack of direction from Government.