Planning from pilot to 100 per cent E-fleet
After your test-and-learn experience in a pilot, you’ll be able to start picturing the transition to a 100 per cent EV fleet. Keep in mind that many of the internal combustion engine vehicles you use today will be phased out or converted to electric vehicles in the next decade. Also, you’ll likely want to limit new ICE purchases before then in order to avoid losing money on residual values.
The three big areas that every EV fleet needs to plan for are:
- The charging infrastructure
- The vehicles
- The people who will drive them.
Here are some tips to help for things to consider and ways to keep costs down.
Adding the charging infrastructure (i.e., the charging hardware, installation and power) you need for an EV fleet can be the biggest investment in the electrification process1 in terms of both time and money. You’ll find more on this in the next lesson dedicated to charging.
Cost (and charger) sharing
Consider sharing the cost of installing chargers with your bigger customers, which might be especially relevant for logistics companies. Your clients may be able to meet Environmental, Social and Governance targets by ensuring they use carbon-neutral services. You may even consider installing chargers at their facilities. If your trucks are loaded at the customer’s operation overnight, they could be charged while they are loading, or waiting to be loaded. It’s a solution that benefits both partners, says Marcon-Miratech fleets consultant Pierre Ducharme.
Plan for expansion
If you do not own your facility, be sure that your plan for growth factors in the expenses of a major charger installation at a leased facility. If that lease ends you’ll have to either leave the chargers behind or move them, incurring setup costs all over again.
Try to install wall-mount type chargers whenever possible, Ducharme says. They are moveable and do not require expensive engineering and trenching, pouring concrete and repaving that permanent chargers do. There is also typically a three- to four-month timeline to complete the installation of fast chargers,2 so you need to take that into account as well. But if you can’t use the wall-mounted style, do the earthworks all at once to avoid redundant costs for trenching and wiring.
Consider energy management
It’s important to not only know how much energy you’ll need, but when and at what intensity. To take advantage of cheaper off-peak rates, you may need to install accumulators (big batteries) that recharge when power rates are low and then use them to charge your vehicles. There’s also the challenge of knowing when to move from Level 2 chargers to DC Fast charging. DC Fast chargers can cost more than EVs themselves, but charging a higher volume of vehicles may require faster charging. Doing the math here is critical.3
Look at vehicle lifecycle
Plan out past the lifecycle of your current assets. Fleets consultant Pierre Ducharme notes that combustion vehicles will only become less attractive on the resale market due to EV mandates. EV demand is rising and wait times for electric vehicles are currently quite long. Keep a close eye on the vehicles that are coming to market and find a balance between availability, cost and meeting your duty cycle requirements.
Keep an eye on new vehicles entering the market
Newcomers like GM-backed BrightDrop and Xos are bringing vans to market. Ford, GM, Rivian and Atlis all have pickups in production. And, as more vehicles become available, acquisition costs are falling. Investigate all your options to ensure you get the best fit for your fleet. One caveat: ensure the brand you are considering already has vehicles in production. Some EV start-ups struggle to deliver on time.
EV Fleets maintains lists of available light-duty and medium-duty EVs with links to more information from the manufacturers.
Think about conversions
Converting your current ICE vehicles to electric, rather than replacing them entirely, can offer benefits sooner and at a fraction of the cost. The three- to six-months required for the conversion is also much less than the wait for new vehicles on order. Conversion providers include CanEV, Lightning eMotors and Motiv Power Systems.
Train and reward your people
One potential challenge of electrification is that people won’t change their driving habits, which can mean your vehicles won’t achieve the range potential you planned for. Ducharme advocates using a carrot-and-stick approach to getting your employees to adopt good EV driving habits. A telematics system will give you insights into who does what behind the wheel. You can reward good performance and gently correct those who are lagging.
Check what you’ve learned about suitability assessments and pilot projects in the quiz below, then move on to Lesson 4: How you fuel an electric vehicle.
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