Fleets shouldn’t expect automatic EV SMR savings, says Epyx

Analysis of real-world SMR data has highlighted that not all electric vehicles (EVs) provide automatic savings when compared to petrol or diesel equivalents.

Epyx has generated new statistics from its 1link Service Network service, maintenance and repair (SMR) platform, used to manage more than four million company cars, vans and trucks. These cover three metrics – numbers of visits to service outlets, vehicle off road (VOR) days due to SMR issues and workshop costs including tyres and repairs.

The first example looks at a widely-used fleet hatchback over a three year and 25-30,000 mile cycle. The EV version averaged 5.7 visits to service outlets, 3.2 days spent off road due to SMR issues (VOR) and workshop servicing costs including tyres of £431.

These figures turn out to be very similar to the petrol version of the same model across all three metrics, with 5.0 service visits, 4.5 days VOR and workshop costs of £412. There are no obvious EV benefits.

Better results for electrification can be seen when comparing a model of van that is available in both diesel and electric versions over the same operating cycle. Here the EV’s figures are 5.7 service visits, 2.2 days VOR and workshop costs of £239. The diesel derivative delivers comparable outcomes with 5.0 service visits and 2.9 days VOR – but it’s workshop costs are more than double at £522.

Switching to an epyx dataset of two year old vehicles with 20-30,000 miles allows a comparison of two large prestige SUVs from a major manufacturer – one petrol and one a purpose-built EV.

Here, the EV delivers figures of 3.4 days off road that are superior to the petrol version at 4.9 and also saves on workshop costs of £645 against £996. Service visits are comparable at 4.1 compared to 4.0.

Charlie Brooks, strategy director at Epyx said: “It has been widely supposed that EVs will deliver uniform SMR benefits over petrol and diesel vehicles because of the fact that they have fewer moving mechanical parts, minimising the likelihood of breakdown and requiring less routine maintenance. The data we have compiled shows that this is not always the case.

“Broadly, while workshop costs for some EVs represent substantial savings over their petrol and diesel equivalents, this cannot be assumed. Also, the number of times that EVs visit garages for maintenance or repair and the amount of time they spend unavailable off road are consistently similar to ICE vehicles – and these servicing factors very much represent a substantial cost to businesses.

“What the data doesn’t tell us at this stage is why this is the case. There could be good reasons. For example, EVs remain a relatively new technology when operated on a large scale, and what we are seeing could be teething problems that may range from workshops being unfamiliar with these types of vehicles through to parts not being readily available.

“However, the bottom line at this stage is that fleet managers should not automatically believe that, in adopting EVs, they are going to see SMR benefits with every model. That situation may well change over time but these comparisons show that we are not there yet.”

The average transaction value of a service for a battery electric vehicle (BEV) is currently about 22% less than an equivalent internal combustion engine (ICE) car, data from Fleet Assist suggests.

But, the company warns that dealers are looking to raise SMR costs further to retain their profitability as they start to feel the pinch from reduced servicing revenues as drivers cover fewer miles and a rapid rise in operating costs, particularly technician salaries.

Fleet Assist was contacted recently by a franchised garage that was considering implementing a specific BEV servicing labour rate of £125, an 89% increase over the equivalent labour cost of servicing ICE cars.

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