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pro landscaper magazine

Navigating the electric fleet transition: How the landscaping sector can accelerate its EV revolution

by | 15 Mar 24 | Grounds Maintenance, Long Reads, Sustainability | 1 comment

Mitie EV fleet

Mitie Landscapes was unveiled as the Sustainable Company of the Year at the Pro Landscaper Business Awards last year. Group fleet manager Heidi Thompson shares Mitie’s EV journey and its advice for landscaping organisations beginning their EV transitions – from setting challenging targets and celebrating milestones, to the need for creativity when selecting electric replacements, and the importance of working with drivers to make the transition to EV as seamless as possible.

As an industry heavily reliant on its fleet, the switch to electric vehicles (EVs) offers an exciting opportunity for the landscaping sector to both benefit from the commercial improvements of electric vehicles, and also contribute to the UK’s decarbonisation goals. With one of the largest zero emission fleets in the UK, having recently added our 4,000th EV, we’re passionate about sharing what Mitie has learnt so that we can help other businesses charge ahead with their transitions and get more of these vehicles on the road.

The journey is just as important as the destination

It’s important for landscaping teams to be ambitious with their fleet plans – setting challenging targets and pushing the boundaries. But without regular milestones to aim for, it can be easy to get lost along the way. While we set a bold target for Mitie to reach 100% electric by the end of 2025 – the most ambitious in our industry – we’ve made sure to bake-in regular checkpoints to keep us on target for success. We’ve made what could be a daunting goal feel achievable by breaking it down into annual targets, celebrating key milestones, from our very first van right up to our 4,000th vehicle. This helps us stop and reflect on the journey we’re on and rallies our momentum towards our end goal.

Diverse fleets require creative solutions

Every business has its own unique requirements for its vehicles; however, unfortunately the electric options available don’t always match up with what’s needed. We’ve experienced this first hand, having a diverse range of requirements ourselves – from those driving long distances, to nimble campus-based vehicles, or vans carrying heavy loads – meaning sometimes we need to find our own solutions. We used this approach when switching the landscaping vans we use in cities to zero emissions alternatives, where we completely redesigned them to be more sustainable. This included installing a bespoke interior to replace plastic bags with reusable waste collection bags, as well as fitting solar panels on the roof which are used to charge up tools while out on the road.

Putting people first to foster a successful transition

As with any business change, in order for a shift to EVs to be successful, it’s essential to gain the support of drivers. After all, these are the people using the vehicles day in, day out. It’s really important to understand colleagues’ concerns and work with them to help them switch as seamlessly as possible. To make sure our drivers were on board with our plan from the outset, we set out a strong communications campaign, highlighting the benefits of EVs, and offering support for drivers on any concerns. We also install charge points at all our colleagues’ homes wherever possible, taking away the stress of having to find public charging and always considering their feedback on how we can make our processes more effective. As a result, some of the colleagues that were initially most reluctant have now turned into our biggest EV advocates.

As a sector that is focused on protecting and enhancing our natural world, the landscaping industry can, and should, lead the charge towards an electric revolution. By sharing experience across the sector, fleets big and small can speed up their EV transition and build a greener future for the industry.

For more inspiration on sustainable practices, take a look at our annual Green Issue.

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1 Comment

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    Exciting read! As the landscaping sector embraces sustainable practices, transitioning to electric fleets is a crucial step forward. Accelerating this EV revolution not only reduces carbon emissions but also sets a powerful example for the industry. Looking forward to seeing more innovative solutions in action!

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