Navigating the Electric Fleet Transition

Sima Megrel, VP Marketing

Transitioning to an electric vehicle (EV) fleet will soon become an inevitable move. Be it due to regulations, sustainability goals, or out of sheer financial considerations, your fleet will need to electrify.

In Norway, all new cars must be zero-emissions by 2025. The city of London is already not licensing new taxis that are not zero-emissions, and continually expanding its ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone), and in the US 100 percent of light-duty vehicle acquisitions beginning in 2027 must be zero emissions, leading to The U.S. Postal Service deploying over 66,000 electric vehicles. 

Fleet electrification is a strategic move with implications on every facet of fleet operations. It is a matter one should not enter into lightly. Careful preparation and planning are called for to get your operation ready for changes in cost structure, compliance requirements, routing, and other new operational considerations.  

Whether you manage a commercial fleet, a delivery service, a taxi company or a ride-hailing platform, going electric will change your operation.

Your plan for the EV switch should include new workflows, new operational procedures, a new understanding of how your TCO is affected, the formation of a charging strategy to replace your fueling methods, and more.

Here is a high level glimpse into what you should be ready for.

EV operation cost structure done right means your TCO will improve

One of the common misconceptions surrounding EVs is that they are more expensive than ICE vehicles. While the upfront cost of EVs might be a little higher, the long-term operational and maintenance costs of EVs are much lower, and in most cases, there are tax rebates and other incentives to help mitigate the cost difference.

Fleets especially, who utilize their vehicle much more than a typical commuter, stand to gain a lot from these differences in operational, maintenance and energy costs. According to Leaseplan, for example, energy costs for an EV account for just 15% of the TCO versus 23-28% for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

Moreover, EVs are naturally exempt from registration tax based on CO2 emissions, making sustainability more than just an ideological choice.

Sustainability is also a market requirement and something your workers, as well as customers, care about. EVs cut carbon emissions by 40% to 80% (taking into account car manufacturing and electricity production too). Making the switch to EV is an eco-conscious decision as well as a financial one.

As Clean Air or Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) become more prevalent, especially in city centers, EVs allow you to implement more flexible routing and operational options as well.

EVs new operational requirements challenges

As you switch to electric vehicles, you may need to adapt and change some of your old way of doing things. 

One obvious change is the need to meet range limitations and charging requirements. These necessitate planning and adjustment in order to ensure service levels are not affected. Using simulations is probably the best way to prepare for this challenge, and with the right plan is easily manageable. 

Solutions include route planning that can be optimized to match charging requirements (and make the most of EVs advantages). Pre-planned partial charging can also save on energy expenses, matching the right vehicle to the right task and more. With the right strategy and execution, we see service levels are often not only maintained but improved upon.

Optimized charging strategy by Autofleet

Your drivers too will need to get used to driving EVs. This may sound surprising, as some people can be inflexible, but generally speaking, drivers prefer the smooth and quiet experience of driving an EV. 

What’s even better, is that switching to EV does not require any retraining, and no specific certification. However, it is worth taking the time to explain optimal driving style and effective charging strategies to your drivers in order to ensure they make the most of your EV fleet. This is especially true if you want your driver to use “eco” mode all or most of the time, as it tends to decrease the power and responsiveness of the vehicle and make braking feel harsher.

Take action to de-risk service levels

Fleet electrification is a big challenge, and it may introduce new complexities like increased downtime for charging and a higher number of deadhead miles. These can be easily minimized with efficient, optimized planning. 

It is crucial to monitor the impact of the switch to EV on key performance indicators (KPIs) such as revenue and completed trips, and be aware of any hiccups and challenges during the transition.

The switch to EV is here to stay - what’s the best way to make the most of it?

Fleet electrification is a fait accompli, and for fleet managers and mobility operators, this means that the earlier they start integrating EVs into their fleets, the easier the transition will be when ICE vehicles are phased out. 

We recommend starting to incorporate EVs into your fleet now, so you can allow yourself to make a gradual transition, relying on your tried and tested ICE fleet for now as you develop the methodologies to optimize your EV operations. 

This is a strategic business decision with a considerable upside and it offers lower TCO and environmental benefits. And while the transition may introduce new complexities, careful planning and a focus on key metrics can make the ride much smoother for everyone involved.

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