Growing uncertainty for SMEs but most remain positive about 2024

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#Alternative Fuels, #Industry News
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Vans lined up in a row

The lack of growth in the economy may be causing concern for some but many SMEs are still surprisingly positive about the future.  Despite an increase in uncertainty and a decline in those declaring themselves positive, over half of respondents from a recent survey by Right Fuel Card reported they were positive or very positive about the next 12 months and only 11% had a negative or very negative outlook.

Whilst most industries did see a slip in positivity, taxi drivers are bucking the trend. 2023 figures show, finally, an uptick in the number of registered drivers following a sustained decrease since the first Covid lockdown.

The road to decarbonisation is speeding up 

With a 30% increase in public chargers available in the UK year on year, there was an expectation that the number of customers using or planning to use alternative fuels would rise.  In just 5 months the number of responders confirming they are on the route to decarbonisation has doubled. 

Unsurprisingly, the haulage sector still lags other industries with less than 8% of responders using or planning to use alternative fuels compared to 10% across couriers and over 15% for taxis and limousines.  This is likely driven by the type of vehicle. Businesses using cars were twice as likely to have switched or be planning to switch than those using larger commercial vehicles. This reflects the range of vehicles available and the current UK infrastructure which is far more geared towards car users.

Vehicle cost still appears to be the key barrier businesses face in moving to alternative fuels, though infrastructure also remains a worry.  Those based away from cities or with high daily mileage expressed the biggest reluctance to make the leap to alternative fuels.

What do businesses need to decarbonise?

For businesses who are keen to move to sustainable fuels as soon as possible, investment will be needed in both new vehicles and infrastructure, particularly where there has been little local investment.

For those in no urgency, it may prove beneficial to sit tight.  The ban on new petrol and diesel sales was delayed by Rishi Sunak to 2035 giving small businesses more time to plan how to decarbonise the vehicles they use.  Financially, the delay also provides more time to get full value out of their current fleets or test the water with second hand hybrid vehicles which are likely to be a lower cost alternative to a brand-new EV.

Of course, it’s not just vehicles that with be evolving but how they are paid for.  Right Fuel Card continues to work on new fuel solutions and will be expanding the number of fuels that can be purchased through its products early in 2025.  Sign up to be the first to hear about the changes.

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Matt Dodds
Head of Strategic Sales and Partnerships

With over 14 years of experience across two of the leading fuel card companies in the UK, Matt Dodds joined RFC Edenred to help lead the development of products to support our customer's move to EV and other alternative fuels, a transition he feels passionately about.