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White Van Plan

White Van Plan aims to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their electric transport journey. This could result in quicker, easier and cheaper access to the network for SMEs wishing to transition to electric vehicles, and help save our customers’ money by avoiding costly infrastructure upgrades.

Project-on-a-Page summary

Project data

Start date: 01/07/2020
End date: 31/10/2022
Budget: £604,000

Small to medium sized enterprises (which are companies with fewer than 250 employees) are the backbone of our economy. Across the UK there are nearly six million small companies, employing over 16 million people. SMEs account for 60% of the employment and half of turnover in the UK private sector. There are more than two million small businesses in our areas alone.

While people working at SMEs are our customers as electricity consumers, we still don’t have a detailed picture of their needs, views and routines when it comes to transport. We know that electric vehicles will play a crucial role in reaching the UK’s 2050 Net Zero carbon emissions target, but we don’t yet know how small companies will adapt.

We want to do everything we can to support small companies if they choose to make the switch, so we’ve launched the White Van Plan research project to work more closely with SMEs, learn how they use transport, and investigate potential technical and commercial solutions that will help facilitate the electric vehicle revolution.

As part of the project, we want to hear from small businesses from all backgrounds and sectors, whether they use vans, trucks, or passenger vehicles for their business.

SMEs are a large and diverse group that White Van Plan will investigate through the following steps:

  1. Desktop research (literature review, analysis of secondary data) to build hypothesis on SME use of transportation
  2. Qualitative and quantitative primary research/data gathering to refine findings and bridge gaps
  3. Segmentation of the SME group by transportation use type
  4. Investigation of SME segments/archetypes and their specific needs/interests in the EV transition
  5. Engagement with SMEs and development of communication strategies with this diverse group
  6. Network impact assessment of the SME segments transition to EVs
  7. Investigation of the potential for smart solutions to facilitate this transition, and assessment of the suitability for SMEs of technical and commercial solutions already under development.

This is the first time we’re specifically looking to engage with small businesses on electric transportation. Our extensive stakeholder engagement around EVs highlighted the fact that SMEs may not have the same needs as residential customers or large fleets when considering their specific plan for switching from fossil fuels. White Van Plan is innovative in engaging for the first time with the large, diverse and in certain circumstances hard-to-reach SME customer group.

Through the project, we’re hoping to create:

  • A detailed understanding of the different SME customer groups based on their transportation needs
  • Clarity on the specific needs and interests of each segment in the EV transition
  • A plan for effective communication strategies to engage with each segment
  • An analysis of the suitability of commercial and technical solutions under development for the transition of SMEs to EVs
  • An evaluation of the extent of network impact expected from SME transport electrification

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