With electric vehicles (EVs) quickly expanding across the market, it's important for fleet operators to know the ins and outs of EV fleet management systems and fleet electrification.
Many organizations are committing to sustainability and carbon emissions reduction by converting to EVs. But there are challenges.
From transitioning to EV fleets to operating and maintaining them, we've compiled an essential guide for EV fleet management. Here are a few pieces of knowledge you as a fleet manager should consider when making this transition.
Let's dive in.
Challenges of EV Fleet Management and Fleet Electrification
While electric vehicles are making their way into the fleet industry and are leading fleet managers to sustainability, they still pose some challenges to managers and drivers alike.
Range Anxiety and Charging
One of the biggest challenges for fleet electrification and the fleet management industry as a whole is overcoming range anxiety and charging investment. Knowing how far you can go before needing to charge your EV can be tricky, given that numerous factors affect driving range such as temperature, wind resistance, and weight. On top of that, diesel and gas pumps are far more common than electric charging stations (for now).
Ultimately, planning efficient routes can be more difficult when compared to an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.
Short Supply of Electric Trucks
While many electric cars from brands such as Tesla are readily available, the same cannot be said for commercial electric trucks just yet. This can limit some fleets depending on the specific vehicles they need for the job.
While the market for electric trucks has expanded, it's still difficult for fleets to obtain them. There is a high demand from companies looking to go green and the industry is still recovering from parts shortages.
High Upfront Costs
As EV technology improves, these vehicles will become more affordable. For now, though, their high upfront price makes them inaccessible to many smaller logistics companies.
Not only can this prevent them from transitioning to electrification, but it also creates barriers for many companies looking to go green on a budget. Keep in mind however, that there are numerous tax write-offs for going with an EV.
Some e-trucks are currently incapable of carrying the same load size as their ICE counterparts because of the size of their batteries. This could result in having to dispatch two trips for the same load a diesel truck could take in one.
Perhaps an overlooked aspect of EV fleets is how new they are. This can make it harder to adopt due to fleet managers' hesitancy over whether or not they will benefit their team.
Like with any new technology, switching over to EVs will come with some initial disruption and cause organizational challenges. Fleet managers will have to approach route planning and maintenance schedules differently.
Also, drivers may need some time to adjust to driving an EV.
One of the biggest transitions fleets will face with EVs is planning a new vehicle charging strategy.
'Fill-Ups' Will Be Different
Vehicles with extended dwell time, such as overnight at a facility, will "fuel" or charge while parked. Other operational considerations may require different charging speeds for vehicles that need to resume operations quickly after returning to base.
Coming Up With a Charging Plan
It's important to have a comprehensive vehicle charging strategy for your EVs.
First, you'll want to determine how many charging stations your business can support and afford. If you won't have one for every EV in your fleet to charge overnight, determine a vehicle charging schedule that accommodates all of your vehicles.
As a fleet manager, you will have to consider the speed of charging, wait times, and range of each vehicle so you can utilize it to the best of its capabilities.
Operating Electric Vehicles
To operate EV fleets efficiently, research needs to be done beforehand to minimize disruption. Although there are some expected challenges, taking the time to research what kind of vehicles are best used for what can help make for an easier transition.
Here are some factors you should consider when operating and adopting EVs into your fleet.
Your Fleet Size and Usage
What kind of vehicles does your fleet currently use, and for what purpose? What would be the best kind of EV to transition to?
- Light-Duty Electric Vehicles (LDEV): Sedans and SUVs typically represent the majority of LDEVs and are used commonly by ride-sharing and car-hailing companies.
- Medium-Duty Electric Vehicles (MDEV): Vehicles like Electric Delivery Vans (EDV) are best for short-haul trips and last mile deliveries.
- Heavy-Duty Electric Vehicles (HDEV): Electric trucks and buses are electric vehicles designed for commercial and industrial use. These typically require massive batteries, long charges, and fulfill demanding workloads.
Four Types of EVs
Understanding the architecture behind different EVs will also help you choose the best for your business.
- Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV): Fully powered by electric batteries and motors. These are often more efficient compared to hybrid and plug-in hybrids.
- Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV): These vehicles use both an internal combustion engine and a supporting battery-powered electric motor powertrain. The electric batteries charge via a combination of the combustion engine and regenerative braking.
- Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV): Uses both an internal combustion engine and a battery. PHEVs may also be charged at charging stations, unlike traditional HEVs.
- Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV): In FCEVs, electric energy is produced from chemical reactions. A common example would be a hydrogen FCEV. In this case, hydrogen gas in the fuel cell reacts with oxygen from the environment to produce electricity.
Avoiding Range Anxiety
One issue facing many EV fleet owners and drivers is range. Planning driving routes – to and from work, local deliveries for businesses, or long trips – is not as simple as with an ICE vehicle since charging stations are not as common as gas stations.
At the beginning of EV adoption, fleet managers must dedicate time to planning efficient routes around charging station locations. If fleet vehicles are parked overnight, that's the ideal time to recharge. For vehicles that have little downtime, consider alternating EVs so each can take a charging break.
EV Fleet Operating Costs
According to the Zero Emission Transportation Association's (ZETA) analysis on zero-emission vehicle savings, the future of charging costs and EV lifespans are promising. Below are some key takeaways regarding fuel, mileage, and total lifespan costs.
Decreased Transportation Costs
When it comes to transportation costs, EVs win. Let's take a look at how prices change when you transition to EVs...
Gasoline prices are inherently volatile since they are largely connected to foreign oil markets. As a result, what's happening internationally will affect gasoline prices and fueling costs for ICE vehicles.
This differs from EVs because their charging costs are not dependent on global oil markets. Essentially, your EVs are not subject to the same price shocks, disruptions, and supply shortages that ICE vehicles face.
In contrast, electricity is cheaper than gasoline and is produced domestically from increasingly renewable and locally derived resources.
Decreased Driving & Mileage Costs
Not only are fuel costs cut down, but statistics from ZETA show that driving an EV is cheaper and possibly more efficient than an ICE vehicle:
- As of March 2022, driving an EV is 3-5 times cheaper per mile than driving a gas-powered vehicle.
- According to Consumer Reports, EVs can save drivers between $1,800 and $2,600 on operating and maintenance costs per year.
Total Lifespan For an EV Saves You Money
Another essential part of understanding the total operating costs of your EV is understanding the lifespan and how it differs from an ICE vehicle:
- The lifetime cost of ownership for EVs is thousands of dollars cheaper than gas-powered vehicles. EVs can save owners between $6,000 and $10,000 over the vehicle's lifespan.
Seeing how EVs compare against ICE vehicles is an effective way to understand which type of vehicle is best suited for your fleet. For example, seeing how an EV performs for 65,000 miles over three years could be an accurate guide to whether a fleet should transition to electric.
Maintaining Electric Vehicles
EV fleet maintenance requires extra attention to the battery, charging, braking, cooling, and suspension systems.
Because of their greater weight, EVs need larger calipers, rotors, and brake pads. These often need replacing sooner than their ICE counterparts as well. Similarly, EV weight demands that they have heftier suspensions.
Furthermore, EVs need heavier-duty cooling systems to ensure the battery and other electrical components don't overheat. Battery maintenance for EVs includes regular checkups to ensure proper charging and capacity levels and overheating damage.
The Future of Electric Vehicles
So, what does the future hold for electric vehicle fleets?
Although the road to EVs is paved with many present obstacles, fleet managers and drivers should expect these to dissipate over the coming decade. Additionally, recent ICE innovations push EV manufacturers to improve even faster to provide a viable competitor.
Whether we like it or not, the fleet industry is changing, so keeping on top of trends will help make future transitions easier.
Better Battery Life
Fleets can expect continuously improving electric vehicle battery life.
Today, many EV batteries easily last up to 10 years. The technology is only improving, so expect the battery cost and size to decrease and the longevity to improve.
This means you can expect longer battery life, less cooling needs, and lower weight for your EVs in the future.
Ease of maintenance is one of the many benefits of electric vehicles. Since EVs are electrically powered, there's no need to change oil, inspect spark plugs, or replace piston rings, fuel filters, or catalytic converters...
Ultimately, fleet managers can expect a simplified maintenance process.
Improved Charger Access
Charging infrastructure is expected to increase dramatically. According to Precedence Research, "the global electric vehicle charging station market size was estimated at USD 46.54 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach over USD 417.35 billion by 2030,"
That's a significant increase. Fleet owners can expect a dramatic upward trend in EV charging stations available over the coming decade.
You're Helping the Environment
Another advantage of an electric vehicle fleet is sustainability. Electric vehicles don't release toxic gasses and can be a huge step towards protecting the environment.
Similarly, EVs also produce less noise pollution. Electric motors make for quiet, smooth-driving vehicles. By investing in EVs, fleet managers can also present a trustworthy brand to clients by showing their environmental commitment.
Forward Thinking is Here For You
Although the electrification of fleets is on the rise, it's up to you as to whether or not it will benefit your fleet. There's still a long way to go regarding EVs' obstacles. Still, as time passes, EV technology will continue to grow, transform, and shape the fleet industry.
If you're considering transitioning to an EV fleet or need help managing your EV fleet, we've got you covered with our custom solutions to make your fleet management plan as easy as possible.
Whether you're looking for support in route optimization, maintenance tracking, or more for your EV or ICE fleet, we are dedicated to providing you with adaptable fleet management solutions.
EV fleet management is largely similar to the management of a traditional fleet. The major differences are in maintenance, regulations, and daily charging.
EV fleet managers have to factor in different maintenance and repair needs as well as the availability of charging stops along routes. Managers also need to factor in electricity costs for on-site charging.
There are a variety of benefits EVs provide for you, your drivers, and the climate:
- Cleaner air
- Fewer taxes
- Reduced noise pollution
- Less maintenance due
- Lower total cost of ownership
- Better performance
Psssst... Want to see how our fleet management tools can help you run your EV fleet effectively?
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