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Enabling Electric Fleets: Simplifying the Transition to EVs

Corporate fleet management and the role of fleet managers is under the microscope. The pressure to transition to electric fleets and away from gas- and diesel-powered vehicles is growing, with new governmental targets for lower emissions worldwide.

But just how you’ll make the move to an electric fleet is much less clear, and in fact, it can seem overwhelming. And when there is confusion, there are mistakes.

Mistake #1: Let’s just add in some electric vehicles.

Some organizations just jump in, adding electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to their fleet mix where they think it makes sense. However, this is often done without proper planning for the charging infrastructure needed to keep those EVs powered and ready for use.

Do you know the top reason 20 percent of electric car buyers in California went back to gas and diesel cars, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of California Davis? Because of the inconvenience of charging.

The fact is, you can’t have EVs without chargers.

Mistake #2: Let’s just add in some chargers.

Another approach we see when companies move to electric fleets is that they just add chargers at a rate of one per every one or two vehicles. On the surface, that might make sense. You could ensure your vehicles are charged, but at what cost?

Commercial charging stations cost an average of $6,000 (about 5.000€), with high-end, high-speed chargers running as high as $13,000 (11.000€) each. For a 100-vehicle fleet, say, that’d be a minimum investment of $300,000 (250.000€). And that’s not including the additional costs to be expected with a new strain on your electrical infrastructure.

With no process for managing the electrical load, you also risk incurring more utility costs than needed for charging at peak periods.

Mistake #3: I can manage my electric fleet with my existing fleet management software.

The components of a traditional fleet were fairly straightforward: vehicles, leases, repairs, fueling and usage. And a traditional fleet management solution could handle that. Heck, a smart, diligent manager could use an Excel spreadsheet to stay on top of the basics.

But electric fleets — even adding in a few EVs or hybrids — create a level of complexity that can seem overwhelming. Unless you’re using a system devoted to the intricacies of charging management, you risk losing the opportunity to not only manage the fleet, but to finetune usage and performance in a way that can reduce emissions and save money in new and unexpected ways.

You made the right decision to invest in a fleet management system. And as your fleet needs are changing, so should your approach to fleet management technology.

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Is there a better way to transition to electric fleets?

As a fleet manager, you know vehicles and how your organization needs to use them to meet customers’ or the community’s needs. But the transition to electric is really about data, and how you can use information about your fleet and fueling needs to meet objectives about saving money and reducing emissions.

Here’s what is known:

  1. 1. The total cost of ownership of an EV is well below that of its equivalent internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicle representing annual average savings of 225€ per vehicle.
  2. 2. Acquisition and lease costs of EVs vs. ICE vehicles are approaching parity depending on the tax incentives available in each country.
  3. 3. More model choices are available with battery and energy storage options, from PHEVs (hybrids) to pure BEVs (battery).
  4. 4. Charging via electricity can represent a 30% to 60% savings over the cost of more expensive fossil fuels at the pump, especially when smart charging is done at times when electricity prices are lowest. (Click here to get an introductory calculation of your own fleet electrification costs.)

With a sustainable mobility management platform, you can create a roadmap for your electrification journey that puts the transition to an electric fleet into a staged plan, complete with metrics and “what if” scenarios based on your business requirements.

Step 1: Gather the Data
The planning begins when you create a mobility baseline with your data — the telematics in your fleet is gold. You can gather the data in real time from all (or a subset of) your fleet, including ICE, EVs and PHEVs. Connecting to any existing EV charging stations, you see the complete vehicle+energy picture.

Step 2: Evaluate Mobility Patterns

With one system — one view — for all vehicle and energy sources, you gain the power of data. Decision-support tools for fleet and energy managers measure costs, energy usage and carbon emissions. And you can also get new operational insights on fleet and infrastructure usage and even optimization potential.  

Step 3: Build the Plan
Designed with the accumulated knowledge of thousands of EVs and millions of kilometers driven, you can build best-case recommendations between the various “what if” scenarios and adjusts based on your organization’s preference and risk profile. 

You’ll identify EV replacement potential, determine optimal charging locations based on route and parking patterns, and estimate cost of charging infrastructure and installation. See the financial impact of electrifying 50% of your available vehicles, for example. Tweak costs based on using a hybrid vehicle in electric mode more often based on fuel vs. electric costs. Review different vehicle models in different use cases. Build a timeline for a five-year plan, with annual metrics. 

Did you know that the UK’s Road to Zero program to make transportation carbon-neutral by 2040 provides for a voucher-based scheme that covers up to 75% of the purchase and installation costs for up to 40 stations?

You can also include analyses of various charging approaches, including buying your own, leveraging government subsidies, using employees’ at-home electricity, or using publicly available charging stations. And a sustainable mobility platform will also take into account VAT and tax impacts, varying fuel costs and reviews CO2 emissions. 

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Sustainable Mobility Simplified

With a fleet electrification plan and the sustainable mobility platform to support it, you’ll:

  • 1. Create a prioritized roadmap for near- and long-term electric fleet transition so you can make informed decisions about which vehicles to change, and when. 
  • 2. Integrate your view of a dual-fuel fleet in one platform, making the most of the analytics in your fleet and charging infrastructure to meet sustainability objectives while you control costs.
  • 3. Have the blueprints to plan for and optimize your organization’s commercial charging infrastructure and your employees’ home-based charging systems, minimizing initial capital outlay and tracking all costs associated with your fleet.

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ABOUT FLOW

GoWithFlow and its Sustainable Mobility Management (SMM) platform help enterprises manage the transition of their fleet to low- or no-emission vehicles while reducing overall fleet and energy costs. Flow’s SMM provides an integrated view of vehicle and energy data, enabling fleet and facilities managers to plan and operate a heterogeneous network of combustion and electric vehicles along with managing fuel and electricity consumption. Named Portugal’s top cleantech startup in 2020, Flow’s majority shareholder is Galp, one of Europe’s energy companies leading the transition into renewable energy and sustainable fuels.

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