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The Steps Towards Fleet Electrification

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The pilot project recommends the installation of charging stations at workers' homes as a starting point. PHOTO Dcbel / Unsplash


At the Virtual NAFA I&E 2022, experts explained various strategies that can be deployed by managers who want to decarbonize their fleets.

Jason Kazmar, Director of EV Strategy and Sustainability, and Chad Christensen, Senior Strategic consultant, both of Element Fleet Management, explained that many of their clients are aiming to reduce their carbon footprint by gradually going green. This is reflected in a growing interest in electric vehicles.

“Obviously it’s a complex challenge, but managers have access to more and more information to help them with their game plan,” Kazmar says. “You have to know where to start and understand that the fleet will be mixed for many years. The economics are of primary importance, as you have to consider the total cost of ownership of these vehicles, their availability and the costs associated with charging infrastructure.”

One step at a time

According to him and his colleague, you have to take it one step at a time. They recommend setting up a pilot project where managers from different departments of the company would identify the most suitable vehicles to be converted to electric. “You have to measure distances and usage, maintenance costs and charging strategies,” Kazmar says. It is possible to launch several pilot projects at the same time with different types of vehicles. Choosing the right users for these projects is also key, as they will be ambassadors for the transition. You have to listen to their feedback and find answers to the issues they may raise.”

A gradual transition also makes it possible to validate the comparative operating costs of EVs compared to their gasoline counterparts. Careful monitoring of this data will be central to the conversion rollout.

Who does what

“You will need to know who is doing what with the vehicles before you even consider purchasing EVs,” Christensen cautions. You can’t put an electric vehicle in the hands of a user without preparation. Initially, many of our customers will work with employees who park their company vehicles at home at night. This is the ideal scenario, as it is simple to install a charging station at their home and establish compensation for the electricity used for charging. Installing charging stations at headquarters could come in a second wave.”

Making comparisons

Christensen goes on to say that if a dozen light electric vehicles make their way into the fleet, it is worthwhile to acquire different models. This makes it possible to survey user satisfaction and the comparative performance of the models being tested. He also mentions that the desire to reduce the carbon footprint of the fleet also includes the choice of smaller vehicles, where applicable.

If a company decides to install charging infrastructure at its place of business, experts advise considering future uses from the start. If the pilot projects show positive results, the deployment of EVs can go quickly and must be taken into account in infrastructure planning.

“The success of a green shift depends on a few key elements,” says Kazmar. “The first, and most important, is user acceptance. The second is careful monitoring of telematics data. You need to determine if these vehicles are being used in a way that maximizes their benefits and ensure that the models you choose are appropriate for your needs. The success of the pilot projects will guide you in the next phase of your larger-scale strategy.”

 

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