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Interview: Vince Pemberton, COO of Rivervale

Air Quality News talks to Vince Pemberton, chief operating officer at vehicle leasing company Rivervale to find out what they are doing to accelerate the electric vehicle (EV) transition.

What are the current trends in the leasing industry?

More and more companies and individuals are looking at how they can drive down their CO2 emissions and so the popularity of plug-in-hybrids and EVs is growing year on year.

If we look at the number of pure EV’s leases so far this year compared to last the increase is 155%. The numbers are just going up and up for hybrids as well.

A lot of this interest is from companies who are obliged to improve their carbon footprints, so are forced to look into EVs. But as a leasing broker, we are taking things a step further by educating customers and incentivising EV adoption with our personal and private customers.

How are you doing this?

One of the main things we’re doing is making it easier for people to go electric by removing some of the barriers.

One of the main barriers to EV uptake is range anxiety. For people who have the space, you can halve this stress by having an EV charger at home.

We are helping to encourage this and are working with Virtus energy to transparently include the cost of your charger in your lease agreement. You might pay £15 a month more, but it means you haven’t got to lay out the upfront costs for an at-home charger. It is done and installed for you.

Another one of the main barriers is confusion, especially for the private individual. The onus is on them to go out and educate themselves on the difference between an EV and a petrol or diesel car.

To tackle this, we have also created an electric vehicle leasing hub on our website, where people can go and find out information about the cars, with guides around chargers etc. We are trying to make all of the information digestible – whether it’s a blog post or a video we are really trying to break the information down and make it easier for people to understand what they’re getting into.

This year we have also partnered with E Forests. We’re now planting a tree for every electric vehicle that’s leased. The customer gets a certificate saying well done you’re reducing your carbon footprint, and as a thank you a tree is being planted where it’s needed most to help offset your carbon footprint even further.

What needs to be done going forward?

A while ago the government changed the way that EV grant money was being shared and they reduced the amount that is given to electric vans.

I think we all expected a reduction on the grants for passenger cars, but I didn’t see it coming for vans. With last-mile deliveries and all of these courier companies delivering to homes more and more, I expected the government to push these businesses to go electric, not to reduce the amount of money available.

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) are currently lobbying the Treasury on this, but whether the government will change their mind is another question, but to me, it seems like they’ve got that one wrong, electric vans are expensive anyway, much more expensive than they should be, so to reduce that grant seems counterproductive in my opinion.

For private customers, it’s the charging infrastructure that needs improvements. If they can get that bit right, I believe the uptake for EV’s will skyrocket.

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