My first car’s a horse, obviously…


It doesn’t take incredibly in-depth analysis to conclude that if the price of a commodity soars due to factors’ beyond an individual or organisation’s control, they’ll probably start looking at using less of that commodity.

This, in particular the price of oil, is the drive behind individual and collective thoughts of a move towards other ways of making vehicles go. Our recent joint Plugged-in Fleets report made the case for cost-savings for businesses of moving to electric vehicles abundantly clear, but now the point has been driven further home.

A Grant Thornton study shows that 28 per cent of companies from within the G7 nations have looked at greening their fleets with electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles – and this figure is even higher in Asian countries. Just under seven in ten responded that this is due to the price of fuel.

Pragmatically as you might expect, Daniel Taylor, partner and head of automotive at Grant Thornton UK, commented:

“Many dynamic businesses are… looking to determine whether switching their fleets to alternative fuels could offer cost savings, allowing them to free up resources which could be better employed in efforts to expand their operations.”

But it’s not all bean-counting behind a shift in thinking. 58 per cent of those asked listed “saving the planet” as a driver behind the adoption of alternative-fuel vehicles in their businesses. As vague a phrase as that is, the intent is surely positive.

Of course if the much-cited business leaders of the world put their money where their mouth is, there’s going to have to be a whole lot more electric vehicle charging points. POLAR, a division of Chargemaster PLC, is aiming to put together an entire UK charging network under the ambitious mission statement of “An EV charging post in every parking space.”

The latest development on this front is they’re teaming up with The Jockey Club. Yes that’s right – the original low-carbon transport guys. There’s going to be EV charging points at all 14 of the Club’s racecourses, starting with Kempton Park. It’s unclear as yet whether electric cars are going to become the odds-on favourite of bookies across the nation.

Although we expect that businesses will be the major force behind getting more electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles on our roads, ultimately these options are going to become more and more realistic for individuals and families too – and not just those who enjoy equestrian pursuits.

With this in mind, we were pleased to see car-sharing network (incidentally, another positive step in sustainable transport for all) Zipcar deciding to pilot the hybrid Vauxhall Ampera in London.

Easing people off the traditional motoring diet of petrol and diesel isn’t as easy as getting more insulation into the UK’s houses, for obvious cost reasons, but it’s good to see some purposeful moves to help the journey along.