January 9, 2024

Exploring the Future of Electric Vehicle Fleet Management

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8 Min. Read

In the dynamic landscape of modern fleet management, the increasing rise of electric vehicle (EV) adoption is not merely a technology-focused trend, but a transformative movement towards increased sustainability and efficiency, as well as a shift toward increased corporate responsibility and environmental accountability.

Fleet managers are at the forefront of this electrification movement, leveraging strategies to not only meet Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals, but also to unlock unparalleled value for their organizations with increased operational performance, enhanced efficiency, and added cost savings.

In short, fleet managers are creating value and meeting ESG goals with fleet electrification and those who adopt a sound EV fleet management strategy will get more out of this transition while establishing a clear path to a more sustainable and resilient future. This article will explore the future of electric vehicle fleet management and how fleet managers can make the most of their transition to an electrified fleet.

The Current Landscape of EV Fleet Management

While fleet electrification is still in its early stages, with 17% of fleets currently using EVs in some capacity, experts predict that 77 million electric fleet vehicles could be on the roads by 2025—unlocking cost savings at the pump, creating an improved brand image, and resulting in a reduction of 60 to 68% in carbon emissions for organizations.

Charging Considerations

Identifying a sound fleet charging strategy is a core aspect of EV fleet management.

Level 1 charging, which delivers speeds of 1 kWh, isn’t a viable option for commercial applications. Level 2 charging aligns with the requirements of a majority of fleets since this charging option can fill a battery in four to ten hours while being accessible at a charging depot or at home.

DC Fast charging, also sometimes referred to as Level 3 EV charging, comes with higher voltage requirements of 480V or more, which translates into higher upfront costs and more advanced infrastructure requirements. Some fleet managers are incorporating DC Fast charging into their EV fleet management strategy by investing in commercial EV charger installations or relying on the public charging infrastructure.

For fleet managers who are at the beginning of their electrification journey, the switch to the North American Charging Standard is an important consideration. A majority of automakers will offer EVs with NACS in the near future, prompting fleet managers to upgrade the existing charging equipment or use adapters.

EV Fleet Management and Technology

EVs are packed with sensors and smart features, creating new use cases for incorporating telematics. Telematics is a valuable tool that supports electric vehicle fleet management goals such as monitoring vehicles, allowing for real-time route optimization, making drivers feel more accountable, or providing customers with more accurate time estimates.

However, fleet managers need to design an EV fleet management process that incorporates data to get the most out of telematics.

Driving Efficiency with Advanced Technologies

Telematics has several use cases, ranging from improving driver safety to more accurate communication with the fleet’s customers. Fleet managers can also create value by leveraging data to automate hours-of-service tracking or optimize routes in real-time to increase driver productivity.

Data can also reveal valuable insights into charging patterns, operating costs, performance, and vehicle status, and newer AI models can recognize patterns and facilitate access to preventative maintenance for fleet vehicles or detailed cost projections.

Incorporating data collected at the charging point can create further value, especially in the context of V2G or bidirectional charging. As more EVs come with this feature, fleet vehicles will become an additional source of revenue that can upload unused power back to the grid, further adding value to your business and boosting your fleet operations.

Operational and Financial Benefits

Cost-benefit analysis is an important aspect of electric vehicle fleet management. While EVs come with an upfront cost, fleet managers need to consider their benefits.

Costs and Benefits

Savings at the pump are an immediate benefit of fleet electrification that will significantly reduce operational costs. On average, driving an EV costs $0.05 per mile, which is less than half the cost of driving an ICE vehicle at $0.14 per mile.

Fleet electrification also comes with lower maintenance costs since maintaining an EV costs $300 less a year on average compared to a gas-powered vehicle.

Replacing existing fleet vehicles with EVs is an investment, but keep in mind that the upfront cost can be offset by taking advantage of incentives, including a federal tax credit of 30% of the purchase price and additional incentives offered at the state, municipal, or utility level.

Besides cost savings, fleet electrification creates value in the form of an improved brand image, which can attract new customers, talents, and partners.

Get More Value Out of Fleet Electrification

A sound EV fleet management strategy needs to include a maintenance plan to guarantee an optimal uptime rate for the fleet. Partnering with a licensed EV charger installer ensures your organization will keep up with vehicle and charger maintenance requirements and avoid costly repairs that can be avoided with routine maintenance and care.

Partnerships with energy providers can create additional value in the form of net metering programs, demand charging, and reduced rates. Utilities typically offer discounts for charging outside of peak hours, making charging schedules a valuable EV fleet management strategy.

Proactively Addressing Future EV Fleet Needs

While the future of transportation is undoubtedly electrified, EV fleets will still encounter challenges during the transition from gas-powered vehicles to electric, as is expected with any major technology change. Anticipating these common challenges will result in an effective electric vehicle fleet management process and by proactively planning solutions to address any potential situations, fleet managers can minimize the impact this will have on their fleet business.

Charging Challenges

Electrification and economic growth could result in an increase of up to 15% by 2050 in energy usage at the national level. Most businesses will see their energy needs increase, and planning now for your future charging needs will give you an advantage.

Fleet managers can plan for the future by investing in a strong charging infrastructure with EV charger installations that can accommodate additional EVs as the fleet grows. Sound EV fleet management strategies include investing in NACS-compatible chargers, increasing load capacity with a panel upgrade, integrating a backup solution to address resiliency challenges, and exploring decentralized charging with at-home charging for fleet drivers. Additionally, fleets may consider implementing additional energy transition technologies such as solar panels and battery storage to create on-site microgrids capable of powering their fleets on demand.

A qualified electrician can help you plan for the future, but finding an experienced professional can be a challenge due to the ongoing labor shortage for this profession. Establishing strong partnerships early in your fleet electrification journey is a crucial component of success.

Range Anxiety and Driver Concerns

Electric vehicle fleet management includes anticipating potential objections to fleet electrification. Range anxiety is a common barrier to adoption, but with the average range exceeding 220 miles, finding an EV model adapted to the average length of your routes is possible.

One solution to the traditional challenges of a depot-based fleet that fleet managers can implement is at-home EV charging installation for their fleet drivers or partnering with businesses or other public players to secure access to charging ports throughout the community to extend the range of the fleet vehicles.

Scheduling charging cycles can also alleviate concerns related to battery levels. Investing in Level 2 charging stations makes overnight charging a viable option at home or a charging depot, and you can also adopt a rotating schedule to ensure you always have EVs on the road.

Driving an EV is a different experience, and some drivers might express concerns about this transition. EVs handle differently due to their lower center of gravity, more instantaneous acceleration, and use of regenerative braking. Scheduling an event where drivers can test drive EVs and providing training for EV-specific management needs can go a long way in ensuring that drivers are on board with the electrification project.

A Glimpse into the Future: Predictive Insights and Innovations

Innovative fleet managers can make a difference by keeping up with electrification trends and predictions.

Integrating the latest technology into your fleet management strategy will unlock more value, including fleet management software, AI, and machine learning. These digital tools can incorporate more data points than ever and give your fleet a competitive edge by optimizing routes, predicting costs, or improving visibility.

Self-driving vehicles could be the next major disruption in the world of fleet management, and experts expect to see autonomous vehicles on the roads by 2035. You can start preparing for this major change by developing a strong fleet management process and building a reliable charging infrastructure.

Wireless charging, dynamic charging, and bidirectional charging will also transform the future of electric fleets. Early adoption will give your organization an advantage, and bidirectional charging will also create an additional source of revenue while turning your fleet into a mobile power backup solution.

Why Fleet Management Matters

Taking a strategic approach to fleet electrification will ensure optimal value for this project. From charging considerations to incorporating advanced technology, sound fleet management strategies are crucial for planning a successful fleet electrification project.

As an electrification leader, Qmerit can help you develop a fleet electrification roadmap and explore different charging strategies, including at-home charging for your drivers. Qmerit helps make electrification easy, and with the largest network of EV charger installation experts in North America, we can help you transition your fleet to electric vehicles no matter where your business takes you.

For more information on how Qmerit can help you transform your business with electric vehicle fleet management and EV charger installation solutions that are designed to meet your business needs, contact Qmerit today!

Author: Ken Sapp

Ken Sapp

Senior Vice President, Business Development and eMobility