With the benefits electric vehicles (EV) can bring to the bottom line, it’s no surprise that fleet managers are increasingly exploring EV adoption. Beyond reduced carbon emissions, becoming a more eco-friendly fleet can cut operational expenses with no fuel costs, lower maintenance costs, improve efficiency and productivity, and build brand value.
To take advantage of the benefits EVs can provide, transitioning to EVs is much more of a process than ordering vehicles and charging them at your site overnight. There are factors to carefully examine to determine if EVs are a good fit for your fleet and company goals.
To that end, let’s look at six areas to cover before adopting EVs so if you choose to start electrifying your fleet, you’ll have a clear picture of what’s involved in getting the best ROI and ensuring a successful transition.
1. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Adopting EVs is a considerable expense, so you need to determine whether they make financial sense and will provide the ROI you expect. The best way to go about this is to compare the TCO between conventional vehicles and EVs.
Currently, the purchase price of EVs is higher. Still, the total cost may be lower than conventional vehicles when any tax savings and incentives are factored in as well as maintenance costs, which are significantly lower for EVs. And of course, there are no fuel costs. Immediate savings can free up working capital to reinvest into your company and grow your business.
2. Driving Distances
The average and total driving distances of each fleet vehicle daily, monthly, or annual need to be determined, as does your fleet’s maximum drive distance. That way you’ll know how much mileage will be put on future EVs. To get the most accurate numbers, consider whether driving distances fluctuate and whether you plan to expand into new territories over the next 8 to 10 years (the average lifespan of a fleet vehicle).
In addition, you need to consider the short, mid, and long-range distance that each vehicle is expected to drive. Lack of this information can cause charge anxiety — not knowing whether a vehicle can complete its route before having an opportunity to recharge.
3. Vehicle Idling Time
For EVs, excessive idling can be a power drainer. To ensure EVs are fully charged and job-ready, it’s necessary to know the idling habits of each driver during an average trip.
How long vehicles spend idling will determine the number and type of charging stations as well as how to plan routes accordingly. Keep in mind that just like traditional vehicles, idle time can fluctuate due to weather, traffic congestion, routes (city/rural), and the type of services your fleet provides.
4. Type, Number, and Location of Charging Stations
Having the proper charging infrastructure and planning ensures your drivers have fully charged vehicles or easy access to a charging station as needed. EVs have three different charging options, each using different amounts of power — Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. The critical differentiator is how fast of a charge each delivers—level 1 being the slowest and least expensive and Level 3 the fastest and most costly.
The number of charging stations necessary will depend on the number of EVs in your fleet, duty cycles, and maximum range. For placement, if your vehicles have a short daily driving distance per vehicle, it is best to have the charging station(s) installed at your site.
Always consult with an electrical engineer or electrician to see if your electrical infrastructure can withstand the necessary charging equipment or if an upgrade is necessary.
5. Regulations and Incentives
There are numerous secondary considerations to explore when considering EVs. For example, state and federal financial incentives are available to promote the adoption of EVs, however, be aware some regulations apply specifically to EVs. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states require that EV owners pay an annual registration fee, which depending on the state, ranges from $50 to $200 annually.
6. Telematics and Tracking
When switching to EVs, fleet managers need to consider the data collection required for a smooth transition, with telematics and GPS being the key players. With the ability to track and record driving distances, usage, and energy consumption, fleet managers can gain insights for a more effective EV deployment strategy and more effective routing. Also, the common challenges associated with managing EVs are eliminated, such as when vehicles need to undergo a full charge.
EV sales surpassed 2.6% of the U.S. market in 2021 — a record. With more EV options becoming available and charging infrastructure expanding and improving, that number will only grow. As a result, expect the shift to EVs by fleets to accelerate throughout 2022-2023 and far into the future.
Will your fleet be riding the EV boom?