Explaining the benefits of fleet electrification

Still unsure about electrifying your fleet? Well, we’ve asked some key fleet questions to Joshua Gordon, Geotab’s EV strategy manager.

Apart from the obvious financial savings, what are the other benefits of EVs should fleet drivers be aware of?

We know that the cost of electric vehicles (EVs) across most segments are declining and are not too far off reaching price parity with ICE vehicles in the near future. With that said, government grants and incentives are available today to help reduce the financial burden of transition. The recent reduction in grants may have caught fleet managers by surprise, with the announcement that vehicles over £35,000 are no longer eligible. Certain car manufacturers, such as Vauxhall and Nissan, have reduced the sticker price of certain models so they remain an option for fleet managers looking to make the switch. These government grants will not last forever, though, so it’s important for fleets to secure this support while they are still available.

Cost savings aside, the biggest benefit of EVs is that they are much greener than their ICE counterparts. While the manufacturing of EVs can be more carbon intensive, the life-cycle emissions can quickly be offset in the first couple of years of ownership.

In order to meet wider climate change targets, a number of government initiatives have already been established in favour of EV uptake, including the Road to Zero strategy and the expansion of the public charging network to increase the availability of charging. Reduced BiK vehicle taxation rates for pure-electric vehicles, and the emergence of electric vehicle salary sacrifice scheme that lets an employee pay for an electric car each month using their gross salary can make for significant savings overtime.

Will the fact that EVs need specialist maintenance affect the service and repair costs repair costs or EVs?

Although EVs tend to be a slightly more expensive upfront cost than their conventional counterparts, they’re cheaper to run over the long term in a growing number of use cases. EVs benefit from a reduced number of mechanical parts compared to ICE vehicles which is translating into reduced running costs overall. However, it will require attention at some point, tyres, brakes, and even battery repair (although this is rare). The battery pack is one of the most expensive parts to an EV and repair of replacement can be a costly exercise. But, vehicle manufacturers tend to offer substantial warranty periods, in many cases eight years, and the evidence base of EV battery degradation is telling us this is less of a concern.

Furthermore, fully electric cars are currently VED road tax-exempt, which can bring big savings over the years, because the tax on all other vehicles (including hybrids and PHEVs) is based on their level of carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions.

While servicing, fuel and tax costs are usually cheaper for electric cars than for conventional vehicles, EVs can be expensive to insure. As mentioned, this is partly because lithium-ion batteries can be costly to repair, which is a part of the consideration when calculating premiums. As EV adoption breaks into the mainstream, we expect that insurance costs will come down significantly.

Fleets know about the savings around choosing an EV. However, do you think there is still a lack of understanding and education around charging and what an EV and BEV vehicle is like to live with on a day-to-day basis?

To some extent, I would say so. If we take a look at the way fleets are utilising charging today, it falls in three ways, the depot, at home or using public infrastructure. The goal for an operator is to utilise the charging that provides the highest level of convenience, ensuring vehicles are charged, and cost effective. As a general rule of thumb, the slower the charging the less it will cost per kWh, and so, home is the most cost effective, while public can be the most costly - having said that, the public method doesn’t require the need to build out your own infrastructure.

Today, arguably, public is the least preferred option, as you are relying on the charger being available and working, furthermore the costs can vary substantially depending on the network operator. In fact, a recent study carried out by What Car magazine? revealed that EV drivers can pay over four times as much for the same amount of electricity.

An increasing trend is home charging, with a growing number of companies offering incentives to install a home charger and charge overtime when electricity tariffs are at its cheapest.

Not every fleet is the same, however, fleet managers will need to think where vehicles will dwell most of the time and what charging strategy makes the most financial sense.

The public sector seems to be setting the bar when it comes to plans for decarbonisation - what can fleets learn from them as they move to electrification?

To even be within striking distance of reaching the UK climate objectives, it is imperative that the government make a plan of action to focus on transitioning business fleets to electric vehicles (EVs). Since the transportation sector is a large source of greenhouse gas emissions, it is one area where cutting carbon can make a significant impact on our air quality.

Fleet operations are often viewed as a ‘cost to the business,’ rather than a ‘cost saving exercise’. While the upfront cost may be significant, larger scale production of EVs will aid this, and deliver results in the longer term - it’s short-term pain for long-term gain. Fleet managers should follow the example of the early adopters in both the public and private sector and take advantage of the business incentives and subsidies offered by the government to make the transition to electric.

How is Geotab helping with the education as fleets transition from ICE to an EV/BEV fleet?

Geotab is in a unique position to leverage telemetry to make informed decisions around vehicle electrification.

First, in the procurement phase, the EV Suitability Assessment helps a fleet operator identify which vehicles are best placed for electrification, based on three key criteria, range capability, the total cost of ownership, and co2 emission reduction. We are seeing fleets take the first steps by piloting EVs, our turn-key solution can help understand where you can feasibly and economically move to electric first.

Making the move to electric is the first step. However, to ensure vehicles are utilised effectively, intelligence is required around operation. There are two keys here, getting the most out of the vehicle range, and making sure the vehicle is charged when it needs to be.

Geotab's array of reporting tools do just that. The visibility of the electric economy of EVs provides the basis for vehicle efficiency. Monitoring miles driven, kWh energy consumption is a must to ensure fleet operators are getting the most out of EV range. Even analyse the fuel economy of your internal combustion fleet in the same view.

Access to real-time state of charge (SOC) protects the vehicle against never running out of charge, sets rules, and sends notifications directly to the driver when the EV needs to plug-in.

Furthermore, utilise the Charge Assurance Dashboard to prioritise which EVs require charge and get a snapshot of whether the vehicles will reach the designated SOC input by the operator - this will ensure the EVs are ready when they need to be.

An electrification partner is not only for the initial transition phase. It is for the ongoing evolution of the fleet moving across to electric. But also, the monitoring and reporting tools to ensure effective vehicle utilisation.

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