Whether your fleet is already in the middle of a transition to electric vehicles (EVs) or in the beginning stages, there are always questions that need answering. From the type of vehicle to the amount of infrastructure that needs to take place to accommodate chargers, it's key to check off certain boxes to ensure a smooth operation.
So where do you start and what do you need to do in order to be successful? To help answer some of those EV-related questions, Ashlee Tramutolo, Verizon Connect product marketing manager, provides insight into what fleets should prioritize and how the process can be simplified.
Making the Leap into the EV World
How can public sector fleets get started in the EV transition, especially with a limited budget?
Transitioning to electric vehicles (EV) can be a great way for public sector fleets to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on fuel and maintenance costs in the long run. Here are some steps and tips to get started with the EV transition on a limited budget:
Evaluate real fleet data: Start by assessing your current fleet data and identifying which vehicles are good candidates for electrification. When doing this you should consider factors such as vehicle usage patterns, driving range requirements, and charging infrastructure availability.
If your current software does not do this automatically it can still be done manually by analyzing reports and historical data. An easier option is to use a suitability tool to help compare and rank candidates to transition to electric vehicles. Using your own data will help make a seamless and informed transition to electric vehicles.
Double-check your options: Buying an EV outright might indeed be your best play. But know that there are other options, if you’re not comfortable with an upfront sunk cost. Consider whether a direct purchase, leasing, or shared mobility solution would best suit your needs. While each type has its benefits, your choice will likely depend on budget and the outcomes you're seeking to achieve.
Determine your goals: It is important to ask yourself what you are really trying to achieve by switching to electric vehicles. Determining your goals and priorities for the EV transition will allow you to better focus your efforts and allocate resources effectively.
Many fleets say they are looking to reduce emissions but actually are trying to save money on fuel and maintenance costs. Another angle to look at is how this will improve the public perception of your organization or municipality. If this is one of your main goals you will want to consider marketing campaigns and website updates to get the right message to the public.
Develop report planning: After setting goals it is important to ensure you have an easy way to report on your progress. You want to be sure that you are actually achieving your goals. Consider what kind of KPIs map back to your goals, and how you’ll want them tracked for easy visibility.
Oftentimes, imagining the ideal dashboard early can help you determine how you’ll want to manage reporting. The most efficient fleets in the public sectors use a technology platform to track goals to confirm success or adjust practices when needed.
Research grants: There are many incentives and grants that can help offset the upfront costs of purchasing EVs and installing charging infrastructure. Make sure you do not skip this step to save time because this could save you thousands of dollars.
Many state and local governments offer financial incentives for EV purchases and charging infrastructure installation. The programs often have rolling grants, subsidies or incentives, that can help bolster your budget. To get started, check out the EV tax credit and infrastructure tax credit through the US Dept. of Energy.
It’s ok to start small: Trying to switch your entire fleet to EVs can be overwhelming and costly. Don’t be afraid to begin with a pilot program or a small number of EVs to test the waters. While you’ll certainly want to plan for the longer term, you can start small, break your program into phases and scale-up overtime.
Developing a Plan to Map Out Data Expansion
How can government fleets simplify the EV transition while mapping out an expansion of data importation for the future?
Government fleets can simplify the EV transition while mapping out the expansion of data importation for the future by developing a comprehensive plan. Planning for the EV transition should include a timeline, budget, goals, considerations for extensibility, and a strategy for data importation and management. Get started by asking yourself a few questions:
- Do I have a collection of x-functional team members that are ready to support an EV transition and understand how data will flow into our critical systems?
- If not, identify key stakeholders, such as fleet managers, IT staff, trainers and procurement staff, who will be involved in the EV transition and data importation
- Is our existing telematics system EV-centric – does it report on and support the in-flow and out-flow of EV data, while also providing an EV suitability tool?
- If not, take careful note of what the system is lacking, and double check that your technology provider is offering you the right capabilities to support your business long-term
- Does the training staff understand how fleet managers and drivers may be affected by an EV transition, so they can help them prepare?
- If not, map out some of the critical concerns that need to be acknowledged through training materials - such as: overcoming range anxiety job aids, and charging infrastructure quick reference guides
What are some of the biggest obstacles fleets should consider when transitioning EVs?
Electric vehicles can bring a lot of benefits to fleets, but there are also some obstacles to consider, such as: higher upfront costs, range anxiety, charger infrastructure, maintenance, and training. One of the biggest challenges that fleets face is the higher upfront costs when compared to traditional vehicles.
While this can be offset with state and federal incentives, this is often a barrier for fleets with limited budgets. However, over the long term, EVs can save money on maintenance costs and fuel. In addition to leveraging a telematics EV suitability tool to understand TCO, AAA offers a category-based driving costs tool, and McKinsey offers analysis on a cost-per-mile basis.
Range anxiety is a concern for many drivers, especially those who are used to the convenience of gasoline-powered vehicles. Thankfully, this is becoming less of an issue with advances in battery technology and the expansion of charging infrastructure.
If chargers are not easily accessible, installing charging stations can be expensive, and finding the right locations for them can be a challenge. To ensure you’re prepared, get a better appreciation of US charging infrastructure by checking out the DOE charging station location map.
EVs have different maintenance and repair needs than traditional vehicles, and finding qualified technicians to work on them, or training in-house is evolving. Outside of the manufacturer’s service team offering, there are new EV-related training courses sprouting up everyday to help your team get up to speed. For example, SAE offers a variety of courses on battery systems and components. As more EVs hit the road, we can expect private shop offerings to mature as well.
Meeting Emissions Regulations Through a Scaling Plan
How can fleets create a scaling plan to meet regulations?
Creating a scaling plan to meet emissions regulations can be a complex process, but here are 5 steps that fleets can take to start developing a plan:
Step 1: Get closer to the EPA vehicle emissions standards, based on the types of vehicles you’re managing in your fleet.
Step 2: Determine your emission reduction goals and set time frames for achieving them. This is crucial for tracking and measuring progress. While some fleets may pledge a net-zero carbon goal, others may specify a portion of their fleet will be EV-only by a particular timeframe.
Step 3: Identify the vehicles that would be the best to transition or are contributing the most to emissions. This will help you prioritize which vehicles to replace or retrofit first.
Step 4: Consider factors such as vehicle usage patterns, driving range requirements, and fueling infrastructure availability.
Step 5: Monitor progress regularly will allow you to make adjustments as needed. This will help you stay on track and make sure you are meeting your emissions reduction goals.
While a sustainability goal may be one of your many aspirations in the years to come, some organizations may suggest that electrification is a primary component of their overarching strategy. As you develop a plan, consider how a transition may fit into your north star company goals.
Best Practices to Report EV Transition Outcomes
What are the top best practices for fleets to report outcomes of EV transitions back to municipality leaders?
Reporting outcomes of EV transitions back to municipality leaders is an important step in demonstrating the success of the transition and securing continued support for future efforts. One of the best practices for fleets to report outcomes of EV transitions back to municipality leaders is using data to support your claims about the benefits of the EV transition.
This should include data on driving/charging time, starting/ending mileage, and any additional highlights on emission reductions. Beyond the numbers, seek to highlight both successes and challenges of the EV transition. This will help municipality leaders understand the benefits of the transition, as well as the challenges that need to be addressed.
Engage with stakeholders, such as community members, employees, and other organizations, to gather feedback and support for the EV transition. This helps build support for the transition and demonstrate buy-in.
Originally posted on Government Fleet