The new report examines how the pandemic has accelerated changes to travel and transport, altering consumer and business habits across the UK.
With mass migration to working from home, road traffic travel dropped in March to levels not seen since 1955 and journeys on the London Underground fell by 95%. Today, only 6% of those travelling to work by train feel comfortable, dropping to just 4% for tube users.
Use of more active modes of transport like cycling and walking have more than doubled to 20% and 10% respectively. A quarter of 18-44-year olds expect to retain the new modes of travel they used during lockdown, and only one in three expects a return to normal travel patterns.
As such, the company car may also see a surge in popularity. Alphabet’s research showed 37% of consumers would now consider using a company car following the pandemic, to enable them to travel safely, whereas prior to lockdown many employees favoured a cash benefit.
The improvements in city air quality during lockdown appear to have had an impact on public perception and sales of electric vehicles (EV) too. Adoption of EVs continued to accelerate during the pandemic, taking a record market share of new vehicle registrations in August.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of consumers said an EV or plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) would be their next choice and 40% would strongly consider one. This is a substantial increase from the 19% of people considering EVs at the end of 2019.
People also want to see businesses supporting the shift to EVs and are prepared to pay for it. Over half (55%) of respondents felt delivery vans should be electric, while one in three said they would be happy to pay extra for an electric delivery vehicle. Fleets that make the shift early have the opportunity to benefit significantly in terms of brand perception and preference.
Says Simon Swan, Director Future Mobility, Arcadis:
“Due to the impact of COVID-19, all sales of vehicles took a major hit; however, electric vehicles were affected less than other vehicle types. As the UK emerges from lockdown, electric vehicle registrations continue to rise in absolute numbers with August new car registrations figures showing a record market share for pure electric cars. Analysts were expecting EV sales to hit 10% of new car registrations in 2022, not 2020. Hitting 9.7% in August is a big deal for the UK market.”
Adds Alan McCleave, UK General Manager, NewMotion:
“As adoption spreads and we embrace electric vehicles – especially in the commercial sector – we need a much more robust smart charging infrastructure. Fleet managers need to feel confident that powering their plug-in vehicles will be as simple and reliable as it is for traditional vehicles. Introducing interoperability, so a single payment solution works across all charging networks, is a large and necessary change. With a focus on electrification and the infrastructure to support it, fleets will be a central part of the national recovery from COVID-19 and our path to a greener economy.”
Concludes Nick Brownrigg, Chief Executive Officer, Alphabet (GB):
“The pandemic has had a huge impact on people and businesses, fundamentally changing how we move around and use our cities. While we can’t be sure of the long-term impact, it’s clear a lot of these changes are here to stay, and for fleet managers, flexibility becomes even more important.”
To find out more and read the full report, Fleet Streets: Accelerating changes to travel and transport in the UK, download here.