Cornwall Insight’s case for fuel cards for electric fleet vehicles

Fuel cards are used by the fleet industry to allow drivers to pay for the petrol/diesel at fuel stations, with the company invoiced directly. There are concerns that these cards will be phased out as fleets start to adopt electric vehicle’s (EVs).

The mass market for petrol and diesel is likely to be phased out, but this will be replaced by a need to pay for electricity at a charge point. However, not a single fuel card provider currently offers a service that allows fleet operators to charge EV’s across the multiple charging networks.

Cornwall Insight’s latest analysis in Charged up: Future Fleet – a quarterly review of the fleet vehicle transition to EVs – suggests that not only is there merit in examing a similar fuel card payment service but, provision needs to be made for a standardised payment method now.

Tom Lusher Analyst at Cornwall Insight, said:

“The issue of lack of standard payment methods for EV charging was recognised in the Electric Vehicle (Standardised Recharging) Bill and without a universal payment method for EVs, this will quickly become an administrative headache for fleet managers. Especially, those with a broad geographical range, who will end up having to manage multiple different memberships and fees to operate as they do today.

“The most obvious way for fleets to pay at charge points would be to use the same fuel card system they have now. Not only will fleet managers already know how to use the system, but the familiarity will allow fleets to transition to EVs far more quickly.

“Provision needs to be made now to the Electric Vehicle Bill to support fuel card providers to expand services to cover all charge points across the country. This provision would ensure that fuel cards, as well as all other types of credit/debit card, can pay at a charge point without the need for a subscription or an app associated with any chargepoint network in the country.

“Some limitations are preventing widespread, easy adoption. Fuel card providers may be unable to offer such a service due to the multiple charge point operators, each with unique subscription services and their cards.  However, schemes such as Plug-in Suffolk’ – although localised – shows that a fully open charging network could work.”