The future of electric vehicles in your fleet

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

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 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 £3,500 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 meaning that there are less components to go wrong with them – good news for maintenance scheduling and reducing the risk of additional downtime! EVs don’t require oils, lubricants or other fluids which reduces both costs and waste.

As with all 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 travelled 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 clocking over 300 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 2011 there were less than 2,500 charge points across the UK. Fast forward six years and this number has increased to over 16,500 public and semi-public charge points. With a recent announcement that charge points are set to be installed in a large supermarket change, this number is only set to increase!

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. Around 40% of carbon emissions are reduced by switching to an EV. In fact, switching to an electric vehicle can save up to 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

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. The Government has set an ambitious target that could see up to 70% of new car sales to be ultra-low emission by 2030 and it is in the interest of businesses to be seen to support this.

So when should you begin investing in an electric fleet?

If you have not already, started then probably now! 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 fuelled 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 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 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.