4 Tips to take your Electric Fleet to the Next Level
Moving to electric has become an inevitable reality in the past year after the UK government announced that it would end the sale of ICE vehicles in 2030 and Hybrid vehicles in 2035. This means that fleet operators need to incorporate the development of a new electric fleet in their plans.
The question then arises: what is next for fleet managers? How can they solve all the challenges that this change brings, and what key factors should be considered in the process to gain all the significant environmental, financial and operational benefits associated with moving to electric?
In this article, we have detailed 4 of the most important tips to help you take your fleet to the next level.
1. Determine the Right Pace
Building a green fleet is not only dependent on the financial investment, it is also dependent on improving your business’s performance. In order to grow your electric fleet, you need to find a balance between sustainability and business demands. This is why it is important to assess your current fleet, as this will provide you with key information you need to roll-out your new EV fleet.
The first step to determine the right pace for your fleet development is to answer questions such as: What EVs are available which are equivalent to the vehicles currently within your fleet?
In the past few years, we have seen an increase in the number of automakers entering the electric vehicle market, with both cars and heavier vehicles. Based on Bloomberg’s latest Electric Vehicle Outlook 2021, electric trucks of all sizes have become the cheapest option for fleets in the 2020s. The increase in the number of charging stations in the UK alongside the creation of much higher energy density batteries has resulted in battery electric trucks becoming a viable option.
The main features of an electric vehicle are the battery and the electric motor propulsion. These two features are key in evaluating EV range as they dictate how far a vehicle can travel on a single charge. There are also other factors such as temperature, load, geographical conditions and driver habits which influence range. This is why it is important to check parameters, including: the mileage of your entire fleet, how much time is spent on the road, whether your vehicles return to your base at the end of the day and whether your vehicles frequent motorways or urban routes.
Once you have gathered this data, with the help of a fleet management solution, you need to determine which EVs are best suited to your fleet. The next step in your journey to an electric fleet is to evaluate your financial plan for the acquisition of vehicles. This will help ensure the success of your business and promote profitability.
Further data collected by Bloomberg shows that the price of a new electric vehicle is higher than a comparable petrol or diesel model. With this in mind, the UK government has introduced a plug-in grant to help buyers offset some of the costs associated with buying a new EV. Given the low cost of EV maintenance, and the grants available, the expenses associated with EVs can fall in line with those associated with an equivalent petrol or diesel vehicle.
2. Analyse EV Fleet Performance
To define your EV fleet performance, first you need to take into consideration what EV models make up your fleet. There are many different types of EV:
- Battery electric vehicles (BEVs)
- Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)
- Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)
- Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs)
- Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)
The manufacturing of the last three models which use fuel, will stop in 2035 as mentioned previously. This is something to take into account when building your electric fleet, as in time they will probably need to be replaced with fully electric vehicles.
Analysing an EV fleet’s performance is similar to a fuel one. As we mentioned previously, when analysing electric vehicles, it is important to consider each EV’s range. This range will be different based on a number of factors such as whether or not the vehicle is fully electric or hybrid, and specific model characteristics. It is vital to consider range when analysing performance because it is essential in planning and optimising routes. It is also important to consider that the use of petrol and diesel effectively extends the range of a vehicle, which in turn means that it takes longer to refuel and recharge.
Another important factor in analysing fleet performance is the maintenance of batteries. Batteries degrade over time, which means they lose some of their ability to store energy and deliver power. Data from Bloomberg shows that battery degradation is on average minor when the vehicle is looked after and driven sensibly. There have been developments in the use of new chemistries in EV batteries in order to improve and optimise them. This new formula within the batteries has been proven to deliver higher energy densities and a longer battery life. New battery models are set to enter the market in 2021, two years ahead of previous expectations. Alongside this, EV batteries are covered under manufacturer warranties which help to reduce costs.
3. Optimising Electric Fleet Technology
When moving electric there are a number of things fleet managers need to undertake with regard to EV fleet technology. One of these is the installation of charge-points on your base.
When contemplating the installation of charge-points, consider how many chargers you should install for the number of EVs you have in your fleet.
To know how many chargers you should install and which type is right for you, there are some questions you should answer, for instance: how long are the vehicles being used each day? What is their average route mileage? And do they return to the base at the end of the day?
The answer to these questions alongside the data you have already collected about the average range of your vehicles, will help you determine the number you need to install. The goal when installing charge-points is to ensure that no drivers in your fleet find themselves on the road without any charge.
In order to help you install charge-points, the UK government has created “The workplace charging scheme” which provides businesses, charities and public-sector organisations with grants to help with purchasing and installing electric vehicle charge-points.
A successful EV fleet requires a lot of data monitoring. Monitoring your EV fleet with advanced fleet management solutions will help you keep track of your fleet and its condition in order to make informed data-driven decisions when taking further steps in improving performance and productivity.
4. Ensuring Eco-Driving
Monitoring your fleet’s performance and taking corrective action when needed helps you create a set of good practices, which in turn reduce your fleet’s energy consumption. In the case of EVs, this is to do with ensuring your practices help your vehicles economise battery power in order to increase range.
There are some differences between fuel and electric vehicles performances. Some of these are directly related to energy efficiency. For example, EVs feature regenerative braking which works by sending kinetic energy back to the battery whenever the driver brakes smoothly. By doing this, most of the energy is recaptured and reused by the vehicle to brake. This feature is shown on the main display in some EV models, showing what percentage of the energy was recaptured. This shows that the battery will not drain as quickly, helping to avoid disrupting operations and increasing productivity.
Driving with correctly inflated tyres can also decrease energy consumption. If the tyres are under-inflated, not only will this increase energy consumption, but it will also make the tyres wear out quicker, creating a further expense for the maintenance of your fleet. There have been advances in tyre technology such as intelligent tyres which reduce carbon emissions, which can be used to improve fleet performance.
Monitoring your fleet also provides you with data about your divers’ behaviour on roads. This is helpful as it allows you to deliver specific training in order to implement a more eco-friendly driving approach.
Take a look at our ‘Go Greener’ statement for more information on becoming eco-friendly.
Here at Masternaut we are intent on not just being providers, but also creating partnerships with our clients. Whether you are thinking of making your first move to electric or planning to take the next steps in your move to electric, we can help. We will help you make smart decisions with our comprehensive, easy to use tools for every stage of your journey to MoveElectric.