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Commuters abandon public transport for cheaper electric cars but many company car policies don’t allow EVs low res

Commuters abandon public transport for cheaper electric cars, but many company car policies don’t allow EVs

With employees in the UK being encouraged to return to work, but being discouraged from using public transport, figures show that electric vehicles can be one of the cheapest travel options – but many company car policies don’t allow EVs.

A survey by DriveElectric, one of the UK’s leading electric vehicle leasing companies, asked public transport commuters if they were planning to change their journey to work post-lockdown. The results showed that 43% were considering an EV rather than using public transport; 33% said that they were planning to work from home; 13% said they would be driving a petrol or diesel car; and 11% said they would walk more.1

The good news is that total annual costs for a new electric car could be as low as £8,803, compared with £8,935 for the train, and £12,950 for a new diesel car, for an employee commuting into London.2

The figures take into account the new, more expensive London Congestion Charge, now increased from £11.50 to £15 per day – except for EVs, which are exempt.

The zero percent company car Benefit in Kind (BIK) tax for pure electric vehicles from April 2020 could also save thousands of pounds per year for company car drivers.

But despite electric cars having no negative impact on air quality, being safer from a health perspective, and being cheaper in terms of whole-life costs, many businesses have company car policies that don’t allow employees to choose EVs. 

DriveElectric has found that businesses have concerns about issues ranging from the purchase price of EVs to how to charge them, resulting in companies choosing not to offer EVs as an option for employees. However DriveElectric has worked with many companies to show that EVs typically have much lower whole life costs than petrol or diesel cars, and there are a range of solutions when it comes to charging.

Mike Potter, Managing Director of DriveElectric, comments: “People are concerned about using public transport when they return to work, and a car is the only viable alternative option for many. The improvements in air quality that have been experienced during lockdown could be maintained by using electric cars, but many company car policies prevent employees choosing EVs. 

“Our experience of helping companies shift to ultra-low emission vehicles since 2008 has shown that the majority of perceived challenges associated with the adoption of electric vehicles by fleets can easily be addressed, and incorporated in a company car policy that supports EVs.”

Although under normal circumstances public transport is the preferable travel option to reduce congestion – and walking and cycling are even more ideal where possible – EVs could offer a lower cost and safer option, and could be used in conjunction with flexible working hours to minimise travel and congestion at peak times.

Improvements in air quality during lockdown have been well documented, and EVs will help to maintain lower levels of pollution, rather than shifting the health risk from COVID-19 to increased air pollution from vehicles.

DriveElectric is an electric vehicle leasing company that has been helping organisations and individuals to adopt EVs to save money, lower emissions and transition to low carbon energy since 2008. DriveElectric aims to make the switch to electric cars and vans simple for business fleets.

DriveElectric staff are currently working remotely from home and business operations are following COVID-19 government guidelines.

1 A social media poll was carried out in May 2020 asking “Are you a public transport commuter and planning to change your journey to work post-lockdown?”

2 Train v EV v diesel car annual costs for a London commuter: 


Season ticket from Maidenhead to London £4,400 

Station car park £1,035

Older car depreciation and interest annual costs £1,200

Maintenance annual cost £800 

Fuel annual cost £1,000 (based on 20 pence per mile x 5,000 miles) 

Insurance £500 (estimate)

Rail annual costs total: £8,935

New EV

EV lease £5,028 (Peugeot e-2008)

Maintenance £450  

Insurance £800

Fuel £525 (based on 4 pence per mile x 15,000 miles)

London Congestion Charge £0

London T Charge £0

Parking £2,000 

New EV annual costs total: £8,803

Plus £0 Benefit in Kind car tax if a company car

New Diesel Car

Lease £4,000

Maintenance £650

Insurance £800

Fuel £2,500 (based on 15 pence per mile x 15,000 miles)

London Congestion Charge £3,000

London T Charge £0

Parking £2,000

New diesel car annual costs total: £12,950

Plus £1,767 Benefit in Kind car tax if a company car = £14,717 total

(BIK based on a Nissan Qashqai 1.5d Tekna, list price £28,500, 31% BIK rate, 20% tax payer)