Paul Holland explores different ways companies can manage their electric fleet more efficiently
Electric vehicle (EV) registrations in the UK rose by 75% last year, from 108,000 to 191,000 and more than a quarter of new cars are electrified in some form or another. This means electric vehicles are now firmly entrenched in the mainstream after years of being a niche concern. The charging infrastructure is mature enough to reduce range anxiety, but there are still challenges to overcome. These include the cost of new electric vehicles to businesses and consumers, as well as the overall response to the UK government’s announcements from COP26, where it pledged that by 2035 all new cars and LCVs sold are either pure electric vehicles or fuel cell electric vehicles. involves a tapered system in which new traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) designs will be banned from 2030 and new hybrids banned by 2035.
Switching to an electric vehicle fleet will save companies money in the long run, but to get to the point where a fleet’s policies are fair to everyone involved and don’t incur expense, Unnecessary maintenance or administration requires more than just buying EVs and handing over the keys to Drivers. This will require companies to develop policies specific to the needs of electric vehicles and the employees who use them. It won’t be a difficult task, but if ignored, the costs could reduce the savings that switching to electric vehicles should bring.
The challenges of home charging
Being able to refuel (or recharge) a vehicle by leaving it in a garage or on a sidewalk overnight is a very important feature when it comes to adopting electric vehicles. Companies that have fleets of vehicles often allow drivers to keep them home overnight, as it saves them the time of having to drive to a depot to pick up their vehicle. If they are electric, they can be recharged at employees’ homes, saving time and, as electric charging is significantly cheaper than petrol or diesel, money. Home charging units start to pay for themselves after around 8,000 miles, so the initial investment makes sense if a company has very active vehicles.
Switching to an electric vehicle fleet will save companies money in the long run, but to get to the point where a fleet’s policies are fair to everyone involved and don’t incur expense, unnecessary maintenance or administration, it takes more than just buying electric vehicles and handing over the keys to the driver
There are two issues here that companies will have to resolve at a policy level: who pays for the charging point and who pays for the additional electricity? The charging point can be a cost that the company must absorb when investing in an electric vehicle fleet, but the ongoing energy costs must be taken into account to avoid employees being forced to bear the costs. expenses from their employer.
Fortunately, there are both existing and developing partnerships and solutions to this complex problem working to provide fleets with interoperable solutions that pay, meter and manage home charging. Thus, enabling companies to reimburse drivers for electricity used at home for business trips, while providing fleet management data regarding energy consumption and mileage that would otherwise be lost in the new world of charging electric vehicles.
Of course, recent events have shown that home energy prices can be volatile, so how can companies take this into account? The variability in fixed rates between individual employees could mean that one employee pays twice as much per mile for charging as another, in which case something that should be a personal matter – which energy provider an employee uses – begins to affect the bottom of a line business. Telling employees to switch energy providers so their employer can save on charging is obviously not something that would go over well, so it may be necessary to strike a deal between EV fleet representatives and energy suppliers that guarantees that they pay a flat fee to charge whatever tariff each employee is.
Vehicle maintenance and driving experience
Most people who have not yet driven an electric vehicle would say that charging is the main difference compared to internal combustion engine vehicles, but it is not. To begin with, electric vehicles have no speed – an electric motor can produce its maximum quantity or torque or stop completely instantly, whereas an ICE motor must go through a series of power ranges before all its potential performance is available. They are even easier to drive than an automatic transmission vehicle – just press the accelerator to go faster and the brake to go slower.
While the driving experience is easier (and arguably more fun) than conventional vehicles, there are differences that mean new EV drivers will need to learn how to get the most out of their vehicle and reduce maintenance. . The latter could be a concern that the number of people qualified to service electric vehicles falls far short of the number who can drive conventional vehicles, so major repairs will often require a vehicle to be returned to the manufacturer. Even the specialty tires used in electric vehicles are much shorter in quantity than tires for ICE vehicles, and using available torque will degrade them much faster than smooth acceleration.
Telling employees to switch energy providers so their employer can save on charging is obviously not something that would go down well,
This means companies will need to train their drivers on how to operate electric vehicles safely, reducing wear and increasing battery life through the use of regenerative braking. Although there are in-vehicle monitoring systems that record how a vehicle is being driven, many drivers will find them invasive and most fleets won’t need them unless there is a serious dangerous driving problem. and not economical. It would be easier for most companies to properly train their employees and use predictive maintenance models to see if there are any irregularities. If predictive maintenance indicates that a vehicle’s tires will last three years but need replacing after one year, you can see how driver behavior could have contributed to this.
There will no doubt be other details to work out when it comes to switching to an electric fleet, and working with other companies can help here. There are likely to be many companies in any given field that have already made the transition, so it is important to draw on the expertise of those in the industry who can provide support with the digital infrastructure to make vehicles economical, user-friendly electrical appliances for employers and employees. possible load.
About the Author: Paul Holland is Managing Director of UK Fuel at FLEETCOR