The greening of vehicle fleets. Where are communities and businesses?

In France, approximately half of new vehicles are purchased by companies and administrations. These organizations therefore shape the demand and the second-hand market since they generally resell their vehicles after 4 years of use. The electric transition of professional fleets is therefore a powerful decarbonization tool and social policy since it strengthens the offer of second-hand electric vehicles, accessible to the greatest number of people. In fact, 70% of the second-hand market comes from company and local authority vehicles.

Since July 1, 2022, Article R. 224-7 of the Environmental Code requires contracting authorities and contracting entities to impose an increasing percentage of low-emission vehicles (VTFE) in the annual renewal of their fleet.

For local authorities, which directly or indirectly manage a fleet of more than 20 vehicles whose gross vehicle weight is less than or equal to 3,5 tonnes, the objectives are set at 30% low-emission vehicles (VTFE) until December 31 2024, 40% from January 1, 2025 to December 31, 2029 and 70% from January 1, 2030.

For the State, the proportion is 50% low-emission vehicles (VTFE) until December 31, 2026 and 70% from January 1, 2027.

For private companies with more than 100 vehicles, the proportion has been 10% of low-emission renewed vehicles (VTFE) since January 1, 2022. This minimum share will increase to 20% from 2024, 40% from 2027 and 70% from 2030.

Where are the organizations in terms of “greening”?

While it is clear that public organizations should set an example with stricter legal obligations than private groups, the latest study by Transportation & Environment shows that private and public companies are not achieving their greening targets for renewed vehicles.

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The statistics at the end of 2022 are final:

  • 66% of private groups did not reach their goal
  • 87% of private state administrations did not reach their target, the worst student
  • 64% of local authorities did not reach their target
  • 37% of public companies did not reach their target

The “greening” objectives as part of the renewal of car fleets in 2022 (10%, 30% or 50% depending on the categories of players) have not been achieved. Among the 100 largest groups (let us mention Veolia, Saint-Gobain, Bouygues, Lidl, Eiffage and even Air Liquide), the proportion stands at 42% of the “greening” objective achieved. Despite the image benefit with customers, employees and potential candidates, at a time when some large groups are having difficulty recruiting qualified executives because of their disastrous environmental image, 58% of large groups are therefore not in compliance.

For Antoine MARTIN, from France Marchés, portal which lists calls for tenders and public contracts in the region, this regulation is a failure because it does not come with fines for non-compliance. According to him, the organizations are still not very voluntary despite the restrictions (ZFE and ZFE-m in towns of more than 150 inhabitants). Few calls for tenders pass through the platform in this regard because operational obstacles exist.

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The operational difficulties of “greening”

For Antoine MARTIN, the offer of electric trucks (7 tons, 7,5 tons and 12 tons) is very limited. To work in narrow streets, communities need the right capabilities. However, the market offer does not make it possible to find the necessary vehicles. It is also necessary that these vehicles be "towing", which is not the case in this engine. Of the CNG refueling difficulties are also a brake on tipping. How to manage the refueling of a fleet if the number of stations does not allow to absorb more frequencies compared to diesel?

La electric recharge is also a brake, for large groups with more than 1 vehicles. In some, after switching to a plug-in hybrid vehicle or PHEV, fleet managers realized that employees were not concerned about recharging the vehicle, due to a lack of terminals. They therefore drive in thermal mode, which leads to higher expenses. Mentalities are therefore advancing more slowly than regulations, deplores Antoine MARTIN, who considers that plug-in hybrid vehicle (VHR) remains an artificial greening tool. It is not very efficient in terms of electric driving and is nothing more than a thermal vehicle in disguise because it is underused. It should therefore be excluded from the scope of the greening objectives.

For Marielle MAURE, Communication Director of the renter LLD Formulas, it is important that the professions of fleet managers are transformed into "mobility manager" in order to equip them with the knowledge necessary to plan and implement the transition of professional fleets. This development goes hand in hand with employee training because we cannot be satisfied with the current failure of greening in terms of renewing car fleets.

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For this lessor, the advantages of the electric vehicle (VE) compared to its thermal equivalent are documented. The electric vehicle is more ecological (no emissions of hydrocarbons, smoke or fine particles). During the driving phase, an electric vehicle emits between 2 and 3 tons of CO2 depending on the mileage, in a country with low-carbon electricity like France, compared to 30 to 40 tons of CO2 for a thermal car. The electric vehicle therefore emits 65% less CO2 (manufacturing, battery, use, end of life) than its thermal equivalent, an argument to be made as part of a CSR approach, especially since battery projects in France are in the pipes. For Marielle MAURE, the lesser impact of the electric car should not overshadow the need to review our daily mobility, by mixing approaches, in particular public transport or cycling over short distances.

The strengths of electric vehicle are therefore real, but as we have just seen, the supply of vehicles and refills are still obstacles for large organizations. We will have to reassess in a year.

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