With the government working towards reaching "net zero" by 2050 – a key international target intended to avoid the worst impacts of climate change – an Autumn budget on the horizon in November, as well as the most recent (some may say shock) announcement that the government announced it will delay the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars by five years from 2030 to 2035 – mobility is in a state of flux, needing clear information on the future of mobility and how fleets can navigate their journey towards alternative fuels (AF) and electric vehicles (EVs).
This is why we hosted our second Allstar Alliance event at Orelle, situated in the heart of Birmingham’s business district – bringing together key stakeholders from across the market to share stories and issues, learn insights, gain experience and leave with a richer experience. The city also boasts the UK’s largest public EV charging hub on the NEC Campus in the West Midlands.
The event kicked off with an opening address by Alan King, Group President, Global Fleet, FLEETCOR (Allstar’s parent company). He gave the audience an insight into the innovative solutions at FLEETCOR, as well as its focus on Vehicle and Mobility Payments (which is where Allstar sits!).
King explored on some of the key market trends & insights impacting mobility today, including:
AI & Machine Learning
Clearly the pace of development is shifting not only in the UK and around the world but as King explained: “We’re leading the way in our Vehicle & Mobility Payments business.” We’re able to do this through providing an integrated experience with solutions that mange payments that span the full spectrum of businesses on the road today: EV Charging, Fuel, Tolls, Maintenance, Insurance, Parking, Drive-Thru.
This is not to say that we’re there yet – there is still plenty of development to take place. With EV a clear priority for many fleets, as well as the future of mobility, Allstar is proud to have grown it’s network to:
13,000+ charge points
92% coverage that is fast, rapid and ultra-rapid
King explained how as a company “we’re leading the way building our EV resources to provide innovative solutions, smoothing the transition. But it doesn’t end there.”
This is where Ashley Tate, MD, Allstar Chargepass UK entered the stage to discuss the launch of Allstar Chargepass.
In a move to help accelerate the UK’s transition to EVs, Allstar is making paying for EV charging simpler both on the road, as well as at home.
Allstar Chargepass is the UK’s only current solution that allows fleet and business EVs to be charged on the road and at home, eliminating the need for separate transactions, and offering customers a single monthly invoice. This also applies to businesses operating mixed fleets (electric and fuel), giving them ultimate flexibility across their total fuel and charging expense.
Alongside the unveiling, Allstar also appointed Ash, the former CEO and founder of EV charging payment startup Mina, as Managing Director of Allstar Chargepass in the UK. Tate explained not only his journey to date but his new role and responsibilities for the rollout of the Allstar Chargepass offering, bringing his expertise in creating industry-leading payment technology at Mina.
Next to take the stage was Sarah Gray, Head of EV & AFV, Rivus, who is passionate about working with customers and suppliers to find solutions to reduce emissions.
Gray explored the state of play for LCVs, starting with how fleets are dealing with rising costs, interest rates and the rising cost of fuel. Coupled with this is vehicle availability – “something that fleets have had to juggle and deal with over the last few years, although availability is improving.”
She went on to explore compliance, data literacy (understanding the importance of data in giving insights into how far drivers are travelling and where they can access charge points), before finishing with the context of sustainability. We all know we’re moving to this alternative future to “improve greenhouse gases, improve air quality and improve people’s health.”
While the event took place on the day that the 2030 deadline was extended to 2035 by UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, this was just one driver for change that Gray presented. She split the factors into push/pull – with fleets deadline with extended deadlines and more clean air zones (London’s expanded ULEZ having recently gone live). The pull factors are that the public charging network has increased momentum, with more favourable tax implications and grants, carbon savings and reduced costs.
Considerations for fleets are important, and Gray delved into the types of alternative fuels available, including both EV, Hydrogen, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO), among others and weighted up the stop gaps vs the long-term solutions. She also outlined the considerations of charging (home, work and depot).
Her parting message was:
There are options available
It’s important to understand your use case to help you begin your transition
Cost savings may happen
Vehicle availability is improving
Investment is required (both monetary and in bringing your drivers on the journey)
Expert advice and collaboration – you’re not on your own
As the clouds departed over Birmingham city centre, the audience settled in for the keynote speaker and the panel discussion on the day’s theme.
The special guest was Vicki Butler-Henderson, racing driver and presenter for Fifth Gear, among many other shows and podcasts, as well as a road tester and writer on many renowned publications since the age of 17.
Vicki started racing 100cc karts when she was 12, and still races today. In 2004, as part of the support races for the British Formula One Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone, Vicki became the first woman to win a Maserati race in the history of the marque. She’s also a former racing instructor at Silverstone and has taught hundreds of petrol heads and celebrities the fastest way around a circuit over the years.
She introduced the panel of speakers for the day, that included:
Ruth Silcock, Head of Fleet Demand & Compliance, Royal Mail
Chris Chandler, Principal Consultant – Lex Autolease
Jaspreet Singh Gill, Fleets International Enterprises Limited
Tom Rowlands, FLEETCOR’s MD, Global EV Solutions, including UK brand, Allstar
The group discussed some of the key themes in the sector today, including the biggest challenge facing fleets right now, how digital technology has impacted fleets, alternative fuels, charging at home, manging charging payments.
Some key insights from the panel included driver education and inclusion (a theme from an earlier presentation), highlighting the need to get drivers buy-in and bring them on the journey while also how the relationship between fleets and drivers has shifted. Our own Tom Rowlands explained: “Today there is more of a focus on understanding more about the driver, where they live, what are their options for refuelling/recharging. Access with the driver, to create a positive image of moving to EV. Overall, the role of a fleet manager has changed dramatically.”
Chris Chandler gave a great quote: “Managing by fact not fiction” when it comes to the impact of digital technology. The insights that are provided give fleet managers a clear picture on driver behaviours, where drivers are stopping and for how long so learnings can be taken to drive greater efficiencies.
On the topic of both home charging and paying for charging, as a whole, the key point was around accurate reimbursement, especially critical with home charging. Our own unique solution (Allstar Homecharge) accurately pays drivers energy suppliers directly for the cost of charging their electric vehicle at home*. This combined with our on the road solution means that drivers are never out of pocket, get no bill shock and enables more control to the fleet manager, with easier invoicing and no need for receipts.
Ruth Silcock, gave some great insights into how Royal Mail has been a leading light in transitioning their fleet to EVs, how they charge at the yard and how they are ‘dipping their toes’ into home charging (more news to follow!).
Overall, the panel agreed that the ultimate end goal is to replicate the refuelling experience for EVs.
The event concluded with Vicki providing an overview of her racing and media career, as well as the need to attract more women into the motorsport arena. She explored her love of cars but noted the important role that EVs play in the future, and how the government should have a multi-pronged approach to navigating this future.
On the importance of the future, Paul Holland finished the day’s formalities with noting some key highlights from the presentations but also how Allstar has evolved as a business from a traditional fuel card provider to one of the UK’s leading fuel, EV, and business expense payment companies with some of the most innovative solutions on market – and plenty more innovations to come in 2024!
Overall, it was a day full of networking and learning from industry players across the whole spectrum of alternative fuels and electric vehicles. For more industry insights and the latest EV news, visit the EV Insights hub.
To learn more about how our solutions can help your fleet, visit: https://allstarcard.co.uk/solutions/ev/
*In order to comply with HMRC Vehicle Fuel benefit businesses may require a process to identify and reclaim payments for private use.