Santa’s Electric Sleigh Fleet

Oz Ronen, Business Operations and Strategy

How can Santa go green this Christmas and still deliver every gift on time using EV Fleet Optimization? 

Christmas is fast approaching, and Santa is worried. The shrinking ice caps caused by global warming are threatening his home in the north pole. Those grass guzzling reindeers of his are just not a sustainable option anymore. Something must be done to improve Christmas’s carbon footprint.

So this year Santa decided to go green! He will minimize his carbon emissions by electrifying his fleet of sleighs! Still, Santa is a little worried. How can he ensure his usual level of service and make sure every kid who’s been nice will get their present? What will electrification cost? How will his ETAs be affected? And how long will he have to wait to recharge his sleighs?  

Luckily for Santa, he doesn’t have to just convert his sleighs blindly, going on faith alone. We at Autofleet are happy to help. We used the Autofleet Fleet Planning Simulator to crunch the numbers, calculate various scenarios and run simulations for him, so that he can maintain (and even improve) his level of service, avoid costly mistakes, and even plan the infrastructure he will need for future Christmases - including location recommendations for charging infrastructure.

Simulating an EV fleet for Christmas 

Using the Fleet Optimization Simulator, we had to make some assumptions on Santa’s behavior based on real-life data. 

Here are some things to know before Santa takes to the sky. 

Delivery heat map for Santa
Delivery heat map for Santa
  • On Christmas night, Santa goes into superposition and can be at the helm of multiple sleighs at the same time. (This is how he can deliver so many presents in one night). 
  • Santa’s reindeer powered sleigh parameters are based on a Toyota Corolla and his EV sleigh is based on Tesla model 3  for the initial simulation run. We can run additional simulations using different EV models to make sure Santa owns the most effective operation.
  • The sleighs come charged at 60 to 80 percent from the North pole, much like the regular drivers that charge at home before they start their day.
  • Demand for Santa’s gift delivery service is based on real life demand for taxi services in Manhattan, amalgamated together to generate one single glorious night. For Santa’s first electric Christmas, he will deliver presents to about half a million households in NYC. 
  • And the distribution of charging points was based on the actual current availability of charging stations in NYC.

Santa, being a traditionalist, does not necessarily plan on replacing all of his fleet at once, so we used different electrification simulations based on varying fleet electrification rates. 

What we tested for Santa’s electric fleet 

Using our EV fleet planning simulator, we wanted to find the answers to several key questions and understand the impact of moving to an electric fleet:

  • How will the charging time affect ETAs and the number of deliveries completed?
  • How much carbon emissions can be saved by going electric? 
  • What type of vehicle mix will yield the best results? 
  • How to de-risk the switch to EVs effectively and more. 

We also wanted to understand the impact of Santa’s new electric sleighs on the demand for charging in NYC, and map out where new charging stations are needed to meet the demand.

Santa’s new electric fleet lowers emissions significantly 

For the size of Santa’s new electric fleet, we required that he can reach each and every one of the 480 thousand households in the sample within 24 hours (yeah; we stretched out Christmas night a bit - some kids will get their presents early). 

In order to be up to the task, Santa will need a fleet of 4106 vehicles. This is a hefty number, but it is the whole of Manhattan we are delivering to. We tested this fleet using different mixes of EVs and traditional reindeers (mimicking ICE vehicles). 

Going deeper into the different types of fleets deployed, we can see the impact on carbon emissions for each fleet composition.     

Moving to an EV sleigh fleet improves Santa’s carbon footprint significantly. As we switch more reindeers to EVs, the 100% EV fleet emits 55.2%(!) less CO2.

Infrastructure is key:
New York City cannot support enough EV sleighs 

However, assuming a fully electrified fleet is unrealistic given the downtime it creates. Using the current distribution of charging stations in New York, charging a full EV fleet of sleighs who try to work simultaneously for 24 hours actually leads to a waiting time of  28 hours in the charging stations…  

This means that in order to deliver all the gifts Santa needs to either use a different mix of vehicles, or improve the public charging capabilities of the city by building more charging stations (We have a good guess what Santa will give the city for Christmas)

So shifting just 50% of the fleet to EVs at the current state of affairs makes more sense, creating a significant dent in carbon emissions while keeping the downtime of the vehicles reasonable (though still high at about 4 hours out of the 24)

Vehicle downtime in EV fleets

Charging optimization data in action:
Adding just 7 more charging stations improves the situation dramatically 

The following heat map shows where the EV vehicles are the moment they "decided" to change direction toward a charging station. The green dots are the calculated optimal locations of charging stations based on this data. 

Optimal charging points placement

The result of adding 7 more stations is a 35% decrease in total downtime (from 4.71 hours to 3.04), cutting waiting time at the actual station to just over 2 hours. 

It also improves the percentage of deliveries completed from 96 to 97.4 percent, with slightly lower mileage per vehicle, meaning almost 7,000 more happy families. 

To sum up, although it could have been great to have Santa replace all of his reindeer powered sleighs with EV ones, the current infrastructure in NYC makes it impossible. All is not lost, though. Using a mixed fleet, and adding just a few new charging stations, can have a dramatic impact on carbon emissions, without jeopardizing Santa’s commitment to deliver gifts to all the nice children. 

It is also obvious that if New York (and most other cities in the world) wants to meet sustainability goals, it must create a public charging infrastructure, especially for heavy road users like fleets. 

As Santa goes on his merry way to deliver presents, all we are left with is holiday cheers and many many great wishes for your seasonal celebrations.

Merry Christmas and ho ho ho! 

Check out our Fleet Planning Simulator to see the potential impact of electrification on your fleet or leverage it to answer a different business or operational question?

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