Five hurdles to fleet electrification – and how to get over them
Decarbonisation, electrification and electro-mobility have all been buzzwords for some time. They capture the fleet zeitgeist of 2022 and are sure to remain at the fore of fleet management challenges for the foreseeable future.
With an impending EU ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2035, the pressure for businesses to implement green fleet strategies is gaining momentum.
When looking to make the electric transition however, fleet managers can face a number of challenges.
Here, we help you get on track towards full fleet electrification by helping you understand where you are now, where you want to be and how you can get there by overcoming these five key electrification hurdles.
1. Getting started
EV adoption can be daunting as it’s unchartered territory – a journey into the unknown.
Can employees’ average mileage and typical trips in their usual ICE vehicles be done in EV equivalents? Are there sufficient charging stations on the most frequently used routes? What are the upfront and ongoing associated costs of a leased or purchased electric fleet? Which make and model is right for my business?
These are just some of the questions which need to be answered.
A successful transition from combustion to electric needs an action plan including timescales, budgets, roles and responsibilities. Whatever the size of the fleet, EV adoption requires engagement with internal and external stakeholders so a project manager (PM), who has a holistic overview of the business, can hold the key to seamless implementation.
The starting point should be a fleet audit that identifies the vehicles that can be cost-effectively and logistically switched to EVs.
Delve deeper by analysing past journeys; average mileage and fuel costs, most and least used vehicles, purpose of travel and nature of journey alongside a medium-to-long-term forecast so that the EV strategy can be aligned with future mobility requirements.
Once you have established which, how many and when – charging installation rollout, service and maintenance forecasts and driver training should form the next integral part of the plan.
An effective PM also needs to be open-minded to solutions that aligns business objectives with environmental obligations.
2. Lease or buy?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive, one-size-fits-all answer here. From the type of vehicles to fleet size, full charge range, features and spec to deals available that best support your business model, along with your timescales and budget, will all influence the answer.
Firstly, make a wish list – what features, specifications and added extras do you need to run an efficient fleet? Then research the availability and cost comparisons of leasing or buying the makes and models that tick most of your boxes.
When it comes to answering this six-million-dollar lease or buy question, it all comes down to timing – what deals are available that match your requirements at the time you need to make the transition.
Whether you decide to lease or buy, a realistic time allowance for the vehicle ordering process should be factored into the electrification plan.
3. Overcoming range and charge limitations
Before you commit to a fully electrified fleet, consideration should be given to the local public charging infrastructure, charge times and costs. You will also need to scope public provision along your most travelled routes in addition to how many chargers will be needed at business premises or driver homes – if these are viable options.
It’s possible that a fully electrified fleet is not the best solution to accommodate the transportation needs of your business, and that a combination EV-ICE-Hybrid fleet may offer the best solution.
Is full charge range important to your business when selecting the right make and model? The answer will be quite different for a local city-based courier, compared to a long-haul logistics company.
The EV landscape is evolving past – and manufacturers are constantly improving and increasing their range of electric and hybrid vehicles, so make sure keep up to date with developments.
4. Managing the upfront cost burden
Financing the initial outlay for new vehicles and charge points is a major barrier to fleet electrification. However, calculating prospective Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) comparisons can be a compelling starting point to build a strong business case to electrify your fleet. You should be reassured that it’s a case of short-term pain for long-term gain!
Although the upfront purchase costs of electric vehicles and are generally higher than ICE equivalents, significant savings can be made in everyday running costs and ongoing maintenance. The long-term cost per mile of an electric powertrain can also compensate for the upfront burden of installing charge point costs.
It is also worth exploring any financial help available from the government in your respective country.
5. Minimising disruption during the transition
Firstly, make sure your plans are realistic – and right for your business. An incremental and phased rollout plan may be more manageable for one business, whereas a ‘big-bang’ electric launch date may be the preferred route for another.
For example, some businesses may benefit from waiting for the lease renewal date to facilitate a gradual EV transition with smaller groups of drivers and to avoid lease break penalties. For other organisations, it may be financially beneficial to trade in all ICE vehicles for EVs earlier than planned given volatile fuel prices and PR or political pressures. TraXall’s expert consultants, can help advise on the most appropriate strategy for your fleet.
Driver engagement and training is also pivotal to minimise business disruption. Driving an electric vehicle will be a new experience for many employees, and some may be resistant to change.
A driver training programme that communicates rollout plans and business benefits of EVs, addresses operational issues, shares charging rotas and routes – and gives drivers the opportunity to ask questions will ease the electric transition.
Investment in telematics that signpost charging points and help them drive in the most EV-friendly manner to maximise vehicle range can also be beneficial.
As you embark on your electrification journey, remember to explore the wealth of help and support available – knowledge and monetary.
The hidden rewards of a green fleet
Once your electric fleet is up and running, remember to shout about your organisation’s net zero credentials! Sustainable business practices remain a hot topic and with an effective communications strategy, your successful electric transition can help boost corporate reputations in the eyes of customers, staff, suppliers and shareholders.