The transition to electric vehicles is underway. By 2050, The U.S. Energy Administration predicts around 2.21 billion EVs will be on the road worldwide.
EV technology is advancing, and the necessary charging infrastructure is becoming more widespread.
It’s time for companies with fleets of light-duty vehicles to start thinking about converting to EVs. Even small fleets can make a difference in the environment and boost their bottom lines by transitioning to electric fleet vehicles.
The initial costs for fleet electrification can be high, but you will also start seeing an almost instant return on your investment.
Switching to an electric fleet is a step-by-step process. Here’s some information to help make the transition go seamlessly.
Determine Your Operational Needs
Deciding to purchase electric fleet vehicles is a big step. It’s also one you want to get right. It’s why assessing the operational needs of your business is an important part of the process. It will help determine EV type, use, and maintenance.
- Vehicle route distances
- Typical vehicle use
- Annual mileage per vehicle (given route, use)
- Infrastructure preconditions
- Procurement schedule and preconditions
- Climate challenges
- Driver training and onboarding (time estimate)
When you know how your existing ICE (internal combustible engine) vehicles are being used you can calculate energy usage costs. It also helps you determine the characteristics your EVs need to effectively replace your ICE vehicles.
- Weight class
- Dimensions (truckbed)
Did you know we have an entire blog feed dedicated to Fleet Electrification? We take an in-depth look at topics such as, reasons to electrify, step-by-step how to guides, resources, requirements, infrastructure, and so much more.
Locate Your Assets and Challenges
Your existing assets can help lower installation costs. It includes things like land and depots you can develop to house the EV charging infrastructure.
When assets are lacking, consider leasing charging stations. The costs are less up front but can be higher than purchasing over time.
The weather can present challenges to energy usage. EVs use more energy in ice, snow, and stormy conditions. Road conditions also affect energy usage. Unpaved and off-road routes use more energy than driving on paved surfaces.
Assess Vehicle Types, Equipment, and Standards
After analyzing your operational requirements, it’s time to look at the market. Researching industry standards and projected EV development will make it easier to find the right EVs and best supplies to fit your fleet needs.
Industry Standards and Potential
Electrical vehicle standards are created by vendors. It’s recommended that you do some research to avoid being tied to one vendor for an unspecified amount of time.
The ANSI (American National Standards Institute) is an independent organization. It develops standards for most manufactured goods, including electric vehicles.
Known as the Electric Vehicles Standards Panel (EVSP), ANSI meets annually to update and improve standards.
ANSI is a standard to follow for EV battery range. EV batteries rated SAE J 1634-2021 meet or exceed the recommended range standards.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is an objective source of EV information. The EIA publishes fuel economy standards, policy analyses, and transportation-related projections.
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) connects electricity-sector analyses with insights from other industries. Some useful publications from EPRI include,
- Open Standards-Based Vehicle-to-Grid: Technology Development
- Consumer Guide to Electric Vehicles
- Consumer Guide to Electric Vehicle Charging
- Plug-In Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Installation Guidelines
Most of their publications are free and available online as downloadable PDFs.
Types of Electric Vehicles for Fleets
Four types of EVs are primarily used for fleets.
- Fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV)
- Battery electric vehicles (BEV)
- Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV)
- Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV)
Each of these four options has benefits you won’t get from ICEs, most businesses find BEVs are their best option. You are still spending money on fuel and maintenance with HEVs, and PHEVs. Emissions are also not noticeably reduced.
Electric Fleet Vehicles – Factors to Consider
Your operational needs and market analysis will let you know which vehicle characteristics are crucial for your fleet. Either searching online or partnering with a knowledgeable EV expert can help you find electric vehicles meeting your criteria.
FCEVs vs BEVs
Even though the primary goal of vehicle electrification is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, most businesses also want their electric fleet to reduce operating costs.
Both FCEVs and BEVs can help company fleets accomplish these goals, but there are differences between the two types of electric vehicles.
How FCEVs and BEVs charge is one of the primary differences. BEVs plug into a charging station, while FCEVs use a refillable hydrogen cell. Their charging time is faster. Some can charge a depleted hydrogen cell in under ten minutes.
The downside to FCEVs is the lack of charging infrastructure. It’s not being developed as rapidly as the infrastructure for BEVs. Creating hydrogen cells is also expensive without access to renewable sources.
However, market analysts are predicting FCEVs will be cheaper to run than BEVs in the coming years. Companies may want to add one or two FCEVs to their BEV fleet.
Since not all electric vehicles are created equal or available in every location, it’s a good idea to see what’s for sale in your area.
Electric Fleet Equipment
When you are researching EVs, the term electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) will probably show up. It refers to the necessary equipment to keep your electric vehicle fleet operational.
EPRI has helpful resources, along with the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC). An office of the Department of Energy, AFDC, has a useful guide, Plug-In Electric Vehicle Handbook for Fleet Managers.
Combining what you learn about your EVSE options, researching necessary equipment, and comparing price and efficacy standards, you can make the best decisions for your fleet.