GOING ELECTRIC


Service as usual?

How EVs are changing fleet SMR

The transition to electric vehicles brings a host of new considerations for fleet servicing, maintenance and repairs. Natalie Middleton explores the main issues.

As the much-fabled tipping point for electric vehicle adoption by fleets arrives, a number of extra considerations come into play, from fleet policy through to driver training and charging.

But they also bring additional factors for servicing, maintenance and repairs (SMR), with a number of issues to take on board.

According to Matt Cranny, director of leasing & complete at ARI Fleet UK, the big impact to SMR from increased adoption of electric vehicles is simple – he says fleet operators will be doing less SMR work.

He explains: “Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts, they don’t need oil, have longer service schedules and benefit from reduced wear and tear on key items such as brake pads and discs due to the regenerative braking systems.

“Our early research shows that savings of upwards of 20-25% on SMR may be achieved on EVs versus ICE vehicles.”

It’s a figure that Fleet Alliance commercial director David Blackmore agrees with. While he says that for service bookings, EVs are no different to ICE vehicles in terms of booking them in regularly and following manufacturer warranty guidelines – and that the company would always recommend a full maintenance package with any lease contract – he adds that EVs can be significantly cheaper.

“We often quote the figures for the Hyundai Ioniq full electric car versus the Ioniq hybrid to underline the point, as they are essentially the same cars but with different powertrains,” comments Blackmore.

“Our early research shows that savings of upwards of 20-25% on SMR may be achieved on EVs versus ICE vehicles.”

Matt Cranny, director of leasing & complete at ARI Fleet UK

“On a 10,000 miles per annum maintenance contract...

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The Ioniq electric costs £12 per month, while the hybrid is £18 per month – a saving of around 33%.

So, it’s clearly apparent that the BEV is cheaper to maintain, regardless of mileage.”

“The service schedule for an EV is likely to be longer than for an equivalent ICE vehicle. Traditional vehicles typically need at least an oil change every 12 months, whereas an EV may not need a first service for up to two years.”

David Watts, Arval UK senior consultant

And as well as being cheaper, Arval UK senior consultant David Watts says EVs are expected to be more reliable too, so fleets will experience less downtime and costs associated with unscheduled maintenance and repairs.

He adds: “The service schedule for an EV is likely to be longer than for an equivalent ICE vehicle. Traditional vehicles typically need at least an oil change every 12 months, whereas an EV may not need a first service for up to two years.”

And LeasePlan says that the actual fleet and leasing sector data on SMR costs for EVs is becoming far more accurate too, as the industry passes the early adopter phase and goes into mainstream adoption as a whole.

Caroline Sandall, specialist consultant at LeasePlan UK, explains: “This level of insight allows us to set budgets that are a truer reflection of the SMR costs for each vehicle, meaning that the customer is paying for what they are actually likely to use.”

But Peter Golding, managing director of FleetCheck, warns that the picture on SMR costs may change as higher-mileage car drivers and – in particular – van fleets adopt them, changing everything from how hard these vehicles are driven, to whether they are leased or owned and where they are typically maintained.

“It’s so easy to look at the headlines and say, ‘Yes, they cost less than ICE vehicles.’ But actually when you go deeper into the subject and you start thinking about the ramifications of the type of use, only time will tell as to whether that those savings are going to be passed on to fleets.”

A CHANGE OF FOCUS

While EVs overall are more simple mechanically and with fewer moving parts, there are some particular SMR areas that do need to be considered.

As a result, Kwik Fit says that fleets will need to assess their balance of repair and servicing requirements as with the swing towards fully electric vehicles.

“With fewer components under the bonnet and lower wear on brake friction parts due to regenerative braking, the focus shifts more towards tyres and items such as brake fluid, windscreen wipers and bulbs, in the short-term,” says Kwik Fit fleet director Dan Joyce. “Factors such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) calibration should also be considered at this stage due to increasing levels of vehicle autonomy.”

Most in the industry agree that tyres are a particularly important consideration – including Matt Cranny of ARI who says fleet managers must exercise caution here due to the bespoke nature of EV tyres.

“The design of EV tyres is specific to the running characteristics of electric vehicles – they perform under greater weights and increased torque, have lower rolling resistance and run more quietly. They differ in size, material, load and, in many cases, have different tread depths. With all these considerations, incorrect fitting of tyres on EVs can cause issues such as increased wear rates, louder tyre noise and reduced battery ranges (up to 20%).”

ATS Euromaster also says that consideration should be paid to a like-for-like replacement policy due to the benefits of specialist EV tyres.

“With fewer components under the bonnet and lower wear on brake friction parts due to regenerative braking, the focus shifts more towards tyres and items such as brake fluid, windscreen wipers and bulbs, in the short-term.”

But Mark Holland, operations director, adds: “Although it’s always recommended to change tyres like-for-like where possible, as this will offer the best vehicle performance, this isn’t mandatory.

“What is important when it comes to replacement is that the correct tyre size and load ratings for the vehicle are used, no matter which product is selected.” ARI’s Matt Cranny adds that fleets must also factor in tyre availability.

“EV tyres make up a tiny fraction of the UK’s general demand for replacement tyres at present, so ensuring your fleet has access to specialist tyres when needed is vital to reduce vehicle and driver downtime.”

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