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Is the future of your fleet electric?

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By Will Wycks
23 January 2021

The future of electric vehicles in your fleet

We look at what fleet managers need to know to effectively deploy electric fleet vehicles


an electric vehicle travelling on a road


There’s so much ‘noise’ in the world of fleet concerning when the best time is to incorporate electric vehicles (EVs), if they haven’t done so already. Whilst some fleet managers have embraced the technology and have strategies in place to begin phasing out gas and diesel powered vehicles, others may be wondering when the right time to consider them should be.


Questions for fleet managers to consider may include:

  • When is the best time to introduce electric vehicles?
  • How much do electric fleet vehicles cost to purchase, fuel and maintain?
  • Is there a charging structure in place to support my electric fleet?

So, what do you need to know about an electric fleet?


1. Costs

By running on electricity supplied by rechargeable batteries, EVs cost much less to charge than it does to refuel a diesel or gas powered vehicle.  Electric vehicles also generate considerably less noise than diesel or gas powered units and produce virtually zero emissions, making them ideal for use in urban locations. They react quickly, making them responsive and have a good torque too.

Despite a higher purchase cost, electric vehicles overall can prove much cheaper to operate.


Incentivising EV deployment in fleets

Whilst for many fleets the advantages of incorporating electric vehicles are clear, premium pricing still remains off-putting. As with most technology, mass production means that the cost of an EV is beginning to fall but it will take some time for the price to fall in line with gas and diesel powered vehicles. Helping foster that growth, however, are tax credits of up to $7,500 per new EV purchased. Regional, state and local incentive programs are also in place with the aim of helping fleets recoup some of the higher purchase price costs of electric vehicles in a bid to boost their adoption.

They do, however take longer to refuel which needs to be factored into journeys taken. Electric hybrid’s (PHEVs) can be a good compromise as they can switch from an electric to a combustion engine when needed.


2. Maintenance

EV’s have fewer mechanical parts too which means that there are less components to go wrong with them – good news for maintenance scheduling and reducing downtime! In addition to fuel savings that can be made, which is , EVs don’t require oils, lubricants and other fluids which reduces both costs and waste.

As with combustion engine vehicles, they do require an annual service and inspection which needs to be factored into the life cycle costs.


3. Operation

One of the barriers to widespread EV use is due to ‘range anxiety’ about the distance they can travel on a single charge. The good news is that this range is on the increase! As EV technology develops, so too does the distance that they can travel on a full battery.

So, how far can an EV go?

The distance traveled varies depending on a number of factors such as the size of the engine, the number of passengers it is carrying and the speed at which it is travelling. Top of the range vehicles such as the Tesla’s are pushing 360 miles on a single charge  – more than adequate for most daily journeys.


The charge point infrastructure

In terms of charge points, there are a number of projects underway to expand the infrastructure.  As an idea as to how much investment has taken place, in 2008 there were only a mere 430 charge points in place across the States. Fast forward ten years and this number has increased to nearer 60,000 at workplaces and other public locations, 450,00 including those installed in homes. And this number is only set to increase!

Interestingly, according to the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), which represents electric companies in the US, partnerships with stakeholders continue to  support the growth of the nation’s charging infrastructure. Alongside their partners, EEI reports that they will be deploying nearly 90,000 charging stations throughout their country.


statistic in favour of electric fleet vehicles - 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide are saved each year by switching to electric vehicles


4. Corporate Responsibility

EVs produce very few emissions and are much better for the environment than gas and diesel vehicles. Driving EVs can cut the use of fossil fuels to power our vehicles in half. The use of renewable energy to generate electricity reduces this even further. The average American can avoid more than 2.5 tonnes of carbon emissions per year by switching to an EV.

Including EVs within a fleet supports a company’s sustainability targets which creates a positive, caring impression towards the environment which resonates positively with employees, customers and other stakeholders.


So when should you begin investing in an electric fleet?

If you have not already, started then probably now! Whilst some states are leaving it to fleet managers to develop their own electric vehicle deployment and emission reduction targets, other city and state governments have set specific targets.

It’s a good practice for fleets to set their own targets in terms of emission reductions across the entire fleet. Fleet managers need to determine the business requirements of fleet vehicles and their drivers to evaluate the merits of switching to greener fueled vehicles. Most businesses have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda that should represent a proportion on investing in electric vehicles into the fleet to reduce CO2 emissions and the overall carbon footprint.

With the heavy investment being seen in the technology by both car manufacturers and governmental departments across the Globe, for those fleets that don’t have an EV adoption policy in place, it is advisable to begin this process in the very near future. A higher purchase price of such vehicles can soon be recouped against reduced fleet maintenance and running costs.

The adoption of EVs within a fleet can be a straightforward process that won’t leave a business out of pocket.

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