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Unless electric commercial vehicles meet operational needs, fleet operators could be waiting some time for their return on investment, Venson Automotive Solutions is warning.

The independent fleet management specialist is advising businesses making the transition to electric vehicles to ensure they get the right advice when choosing EVs to ensure they meet their operational, efficiency and total cost of ownership (TCO) requirements.

Alison Bell, Venson Automotive Solutions operations director, said: “When fitting out a commercial fleet there is always a careful balancing act to play between maximising efficiency and keeping a watchful eye on total cost of ownership.

“That’s why it’s so important to choose an LCV fleet supplier who can advise on how to get the right conversion and fittings, such as external roof systems and internal storage, ventilation and security, to ensure the most appropriate layout for the vehicle, which in turn, will deliver operational cost savings.”

She added: “While it’s great for an LCV to look good, a van is a work horse, not a show pony. Getting the job done efficiently is the prime concern. Key to this is getting relevant stakeholders' input into the conversion requirements.

“So selecting an LCV supplier who will take time out to listen carefully and understand the job required of the vehicle means a conversion that will ensure employees will get their work done efficiently and safely, while at the same time helping the business control its operational costs.”

Bell also warned operators that fit-outs can have a significant impact on TCO. With the escalating cost of fuel, electric or otherwise, commercial fleet operators should bear in mind the extra weight of certain fittings and ask themselves if they are ‘nice to have’ or essential.

“It may not be front-of-mind when acquiring a new van, but businesses should always consider what will happen to the fit-out at the end of the contract,” she added.

“Can it be reused? Are there any additional costs that might be incurred in transferring the equipment to a different vehicle?

“It’s fantastic to see that commercial fleets are switching to zero and lower emission vehicles, but consideration must be made before purchase of the day-to-day needs of these vehicles and the de-fleeting process to maximise resale values.”

Venson has also produced a list of top ten tips for choosing a commercial vehicle conversion supplier.
These are:
• Fit for purpose? - consider what the vehicle is being used for, perhaps using a pick-up instead of a van means the driver can get closer to where the work needs to be carried out.
• Plan ahead – anticipate the reuse of racking and other equipment to work out your lifetime costs for the conversion.
• Cost savings – running correctly specified vehicles is critical to the efficiency and productivity of the business. The right conversion ensures the best layout delivering operational savings.
• Customised racking – a provider that can design the maximum storage capacity will save money and time. It will also provide the opportunity to understand whether there’s an opportunity to downsize the vehicle.
• Turnkey solutions – can lead to more efficient handovers and finance process.
• Key-for-key handovers – a supplier that can provide a one-stop-shop speeds up the time from vehicle order to in-service which helps support minimising fleet downtimes.
• Reuse – you can expect to get up to 10 years of use from some equipment. Consider equipment lifecycles when specifying conversion requirements and selecting new vehicle models.
• Understand transfer costs – if you are intending to transfer equipment from one vehicle to another, understand the cost implications including repairs and refurbishments.
• Payload – productivity and the impact on the vehicle's performance should be a key consideration when determining equipment specification.
• DIY racking risks - Don't try cutting costs and let a skilled workforce build their own racking to save money. This can prove costly and unproductive and can lead to health, safety and duty of care issues.

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