EVs, COVID-19 and Delayed Replacement

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Kate Vigneau
Kate Vigneau. PHOTO Kate Vigneau

2021 Canadian Workshop brought key points into clear perspective.

I have contributed to the Canadian Workshop at I & E for more than a decade so when NAFA asked me to organize the 2021 virtual event, I was excited but initially stumped.

What operational fleet issues are still relevant in the second year of a global pandemic?

Luckily for me, three long-time industry colleagues stepped up and we based our informal agenda on questions about the pandemic, delayed replacement and Electric Vehicles (EVs).

With more options today, EVs should warrant serious consideration from fleet managers. PHOTO Ford Motor Company

Though virtual, the session was lively and interactive and one of the best Workshops in my memory.

The Panelists

I really want to acknowledge these panelists who took time away from very busy jobs to pass on their valuable experience.

Lloyd Brierley has an extensive background that includes over 23 years leading large and complex operations including fleets in both the public and private sector.

Many of you will know him from his last position as General Manager of Fleet Services for the City of Toronto.

Next is Ray Brisby, CAFM, who has over 38 years experience in the fleet industry, specializing in the management and maintenance of municipal and emergency services fleets.

After a long career with City of Calgary and Calgary Fire, he is currently the Provincial Manager of EMS Fleet Operations for Alberta Health Services.

Ray is also the current NAFA President. Finally, Kent Rathwell, an inspiring entrepreneur and EV advocate rounded out the panel.

For decades, Kent has inspired and empowered individuals, businesses, industries, fleets, governments and cultures around the world to re-adjust their roadmaps to embrace sustainability.

Kent’s action’s have helped inspire and empower others to ‘bring sustainability to life’ by adding economic, social and environmental sustainability into every decision we make.

Key Takeaways

I learned a lot from these professionals, and want to share three key takeaways:

  • Emergency Response Plans did not account for pandemics.
  • Delayed replacement can be less damaging if it is deliberately executed.
  • The time for EVs is NOW.

Ray and I had been part of the curriculum development of a NAFA seminar on disaster response.

The extensive curriculum dealt with fleet responses to fires and floods but was silent on pandemics.

This proved to be true of the Emergency Response Plans of most organizations, a hole that will definitely be plugged in the future.

Delayed fleet replacement does not have a huge upside but can be less costly if a deliberate strategy is employed.

Many organizations are reluctant to rotate lightly and heavily used fleet assets in part because drivers don’t like it.

Rotation strategies, whether popular or not, are an essential part of a managed delayed replacement strategy.

2022 will be significant in EV adoption by fleets.

Very few people in Canada have their finger on the EV pulse like Kent, Founder of Sun Country Highway, In fact, he joined the panel from the passenger seat of an Audi e-tron on a 5-day, cross-country journey.

Speaking after reaching Victoria (travelling from St John’s) in under five days, Kent declared “The final barrier was shattered last week where we proved that you could travel across the widest part of our nation, the widest part of North America, in a matter of a few days in a 100 per cent electric vehicle with no tailpipe emissions and almost for free.”

In Closing

To close the discussion, I asked panelists to challenge attendees to improve fleet efficiency and sustainability in 2022.

Ray and Lloyd both emphasized the need to invest in people.

Train them, listen to them and find ways to adopt their recommendations. And Kent, not unexpectedly, explained the need to prioritize the shift to EVs.

All great advice!

Kate Vigneau is Director (Fleet and Canada) for Matrix Consulting Group. She is responsible for Matrix’s fleet solutions division as well as the lead for expansion in all functional areas related to business in Canada.


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