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Centrica unveils ‘virtual fuel card’ to tackle fleet electrification barriers

Image: Centrica.

Image: Centrica.

Centrica is launching a Fleet Charging Management System which acts as a virtual fuel card, allowing drivers to plug into any standard electric vehicle (EV) charger.

The app – which is targeted at fleet drivers - features payroll integration, meaning the driver is automatically reimbursed while fleet managers receive monthly statements showing all charging transactions.

It is also equipped with tariff optimisation, enabling fleet drivers to optimally charge when the electricity rates are low. Centrica said this can be “transformative to the business case for switching to EV”, giving the example of how charging a van running 11,000 miles a year using street charging would cost around £2,000 a year. However, this reduces to around £800 when charging at home during peak hours and under £300 if charging at night using a variable tariff.

Centrica Business Solutions is working with a number of leasing providers to provide the fleet charging management system as part of an EV bundle, with this including charging infrastructure and installation by British Gas engineers.

The British Gas fleet will be the first to utilise the technology. Earlier this year, Centrica committed to electrifying its 12,000-strong operational fleet by 2025, with British Gas ordering a further 2,000 Vivaro-e vans from Vauxhall for its engineers, the largest EV order for a commercial fleet in the UK ever.

The payment process for commercial EV fleets is the focus of a number of products, including Octopus' Electric Juice network, which offers drivers a single way to pay for charging across both home charging and public charging with costs appearing on a single bill.

John Hartley, director of product management at Centrica Business Solutions, said that many organisations with a home-based workforce are looking to make the switch to EV, but that on street charging can be "prohibitively expensive", with Centrica providing the technology to allow drivers to charge at home.

"But, many commercial vehicle drivers won’t have access to off street parking so it’s important that we break down some of the barriers to access for public charging networks too, making it easier for drivers to charge at home, at the workplace, or on the road," he added.

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