The transition to electric vehicles goes far beyond buying the cars, vans and trucks and then installing enough charging stations.
Done right, an EV fleet will yield years of efficiencies and zero emissions. Getting there, however, requires an involved connected set of planning steps that draws on multiple providers and resources, and needs to be timed right.
One new company backed by big money has just opened its doors to clients who want to convert to an EV fleet through an approach that saves on the time needed for research, detailed budget plans, and vendor RFPs.
E Squared Energy Advisors coordinates a program called Zero Emission Vehicle fleet Mobility-as-a Service (ZEV MaaS) designed to help fleet operations convert to electric vehicles, green support facilities, and a 100% renewable, zero emission microgrid that provides the cleanest possible energy. The goal is to provide the most affordable way to run and fuel fleet vehicles while eliminating harmful emissions.
Based on article in a recent University of Chicago research report, leading scientific researchers estimate the new total social costs of carbon at $100,000 per ton of CO2 emissions, a big jump from previous estimates that underscore the need for zero emissions.
A Clean Fleet Starting Base
E Squared began in the building industry applying advanced technologies that could de-carbonize structures and eliminate pollutants. The company has identified more than $125 million in energy cost savings and more than 440,000 metric tons of equivalent CO2 emissions for its clients, which include some iconic global brands and properties such as EJ Gallo Wineries and the Rockefeller Center in New York City.
In January, E Squared allied with a new global partner, Turner & Townsend, to help set up a net-zero energy program enabling new builds and retrofit projects to achieve as close to net-zero energy as possible while saving substantially on energy costs. Turner & Townsend has gained expertise in such large scale sustainable building structures such as The Shard in London, Heathrow Airport, 30 Hudson Yards, Barclays, Adidas, Amazon, Intel, Tesla and Microsoft, with the support of 6,000 employees in 110 offices spread among 42 countries worldwide.
“This alliance brings us the added expertise to manage the largest public or private sector building and fleet net-zero emission fleet conversion projects to clients in North America and beyond,” says Tim Grosse, the CEO of E Squared Energy Advisors.
The net-zero building program includes many building types where 100% renewable microgrids can be applied, such as manufacturing plants, distribution centers, logistic centers, warehousing, industrial facilities, commercial office space, data centers, retail, hotel/hospitality, restaurants/quick-service restaurants, hospitals, universities, K-12 schools, and government buildings.
With the addition of zero-emission fleet services, E Squared can meet the goal of connecting both the building and the vehicles to 100% decarbonized energy sources the property, known as micro-grids, powered by solar energy, wind, batteries, and other resources.
For many organizations, especially municipal and local governments restricted by budgets, electric conversions and green programs are often brought about in phases, or even piecemeal, over extended periods of time as funding becomes available, Grosse says.
“Cities often have budgetary problems and zero carbon goals, but don’t have the money for more immediate action and instead they set zero-emission fleet goals out to 2030, 2035, 2040, 2045 and beyond, which is too far away according to many leading scientific estimates. Our program brings the necessary private capital at scale to form a public private partnership to accelerate the transition to ZEVs.”
Grosse explains that was once a 20-30 year time frame transition goal can now happen in two to seven years, thereby saving dramatically on emissions that would be entering the atmosphere.
The zero emission vehicles (ZEV) fleet Mobility as a Service (MaaS) program is backed by more than $8 billion in private institutional capital for fleet and charging infrastructure over the next three years that can be dispersed globally in cities and rural areas alike. E-Squared’s project investors include large insurance companies, pension funds, and green investment funds that have funds earmarked for cleantech and renewable technologies.
The E Squared and EV and infrastructure program can be applied to corporate, government, utility, service, transit, and school fleets, and infrastructure. Vehicles include large light, medium, and heavy-duty zero-emission cars, trucks, vans, and buses.
Organizations that adopt the E Squared model receive a complete set up for vehicles, charging infrastructure, advanced platform-oriented and open-sourced technologies, and green buildings under a long-term pay-as-you-go arrangements, similar to a mega-mortgage. This speeds up fleet electrification by making it happen all at one time in one place. Fueling and charging stations can be powered by electricity or hydrogen.
“This is a pay as you go model,” Grosse says. “We’ll pay for upfront costs and set up recurring payments similar to those of a leasing model. This is soup to nuts. We have all the technologies and project management and engineering teams lined up. We draw upon a large talent and resource pool of brainpower, technology and hardware.”
The core of E Squared’s program are self-sustaining, renewable microgrids that can maximize the benefits of ZEVs. The grids ensure no pollutants contribute to the electricity supply. A combination of fuel cells, solar panels and battery storage generally can create a microgrid ideal for charging electric fleets and the buildings used to house, maintain and manage them. Parking lots and rooftops, for example, can provide ample space for generating power.
“We are looking at the whole energy package in going to net zero,” Grosse says. “We’re going from a fossil fuel economy to a zero emission-based economy. Fleet owners switching over sooner rather than later as imagined.”
Finding The EVs
Demand for electric vehicles now exceeds manufacturing capacity, Grosse says, which means a conversion program can take a year to fully implement if vehicles are not readily available.
“There are a lot of interim options if all-new EVs are not available,” he says. “We could look at companies like XL Fleet or Lightning eMotors and put conversion kits on existing fleets and transition into all-new EVs. Conversion markets are huge.”
Conversions include hybrid and electric drivetrains, which can be adapted to most ICE models. The engineers do not require much lead time, he adds.
E Squared has formed one of its closest partnerships with Lordstown Motors, whose all new, all-electric Endurance 4WD pickup it hosted at its headquarters in Frisco, Texas, outside Dallas. In announcing the alliance, Lordstown will make its 75 eMPG, 250-mile range, 600 hp-equivalent pickup available for E Squared clients’ private and public sector fleets across North America.
“Like us, Lordstown Motors is born from humble beginnings and hard work and they are a great testament to the rebirth of American high-tech auto manufacturing and produce a world-class EV right in the heart of the USA,” Grosse says.
He adds that E Squared’s capital-backed ZEV fleet program is mostly vendor-agnostic as long as the vehicles meet the quality and performance metrics that are set for OEMs to participate such as charging or H2 range, maintenance cost, and total cost of ownership, expected vehicle lifetime, ease of serviceability, etc. “We can take almost any major ZEV OEM and include their ZEVs in this program.”
Among EV manufacturers interested in possibly participating in the EV program are Thomas Built EV Buses, Lightning eMotors, Workhorse Motors, Local Motors, and Hyzon. E Squared also anticipates more EV availability pending announcements from established auto and truck OEM brands such as Daimler, GM, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Nikola, Rivian, BYD and Volvo, and new EV and hydrogen vehicles from Nikola, Rivian, and more.
Intelligent EV Fleets
Another component of the program is an advanced artificial intelligence (AI) real-time software telematics solution available to maximize the value of vehicle routes, whether long-haul or last-mile delivery while enabling fleets to achieve lower costs via predictive maintenance and driver safety enhancements. In what Grosse calls a “4.0 version” telematics, fleet managers will be able to see where EV drivers and packages are in real-time and if the drivers and vehicles are performing safely and efficiently.
“We can put cameras in the front and back of vehicles and see how the drivers are driving, for example,” Grosse says. “We can predict when vehicles need service.”
With the line-up of services arranged and recently available, E Squared has positioned itself to start working with client organizations. In the private sector, E Squared has attracted interest from several Fortune 500 level fleets.
“This is a brand-new program so we have not signed anyone on as of yet but expect several to sign up in the first half of 2021,” Grosse says. ““We have received much interest from the public sector and are in talks with several of the largest city and state fleets in the nation. Our program meets the needs that today's cities, municipalities, and states face in budgetary constraints and allows them a complete turnkey solution and the necessary capital to make the transition to zero-emission fleets much sooner than anticipated.”
Most encouraging is the recent Biden Administration announcement of its plans to support clean energy and transportation starting with transitioning the entire federal government’s 645,000-vehicle fleet of cars, vans, and trucks to EV and ZEVs, Grosse cites.
“This will provide a huge impetus and incentives for not just the vehicle manufacturers, but all of the related industry players to scale even more to meet the coming market demand. The future of the entire zero-emission vehicle industry certainly looks brighter now more than ever.”