June 1, 2023

Modernizing Your Fleet with Electric Vehicles


8 Min. Read

As the shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) continues to gain momentum, fleet managers are faced with important considerations when it comes to transitioning their fleets. 

With a wide array of EV models available and new ones on the horizon, there is a suitable option for every company’s specific needs. Making the switch to a fully electric fleet offers numerous advantages that can positively impact a company’s bottom line. Fleet owners can expect lower fuel and maintenance costs, reduced emissions and environmental friendliness, and employee conveniences and benefits when transitioning to an electric fleet. 

This article delves into crucial factors such as fuel costs, infrastructure setup, maintenance expenses, reduced emissions, and employee conveniences and benefits that fleet managers must carefully evaluate when embarking on the journey toward an EV fleet. By carefully evaluating these aspects, fleet managers can navigate the transition successfully while reaping the benefits of sustainability, cost savings, and improved operational efficiency. 

What To Consider When Transitioning to an EV Fleet 

Fleet managers must consider the type, quantity, and cost of running and maintaining vehicles when changing to EVs. 

Factors such as vehicle size, range, and charging capabilities should be assessed. While upfront costs may be higher, EVs offer long-term fuel cost savings and reduced maintenance requirements. By carefully considering these factors, fleet managers can make informed decisions that align with their operational needs and financial goals.

Here are some of the key considerations before you begin transitioning your fleet. 

Fuel Costs 

Although the initial costs of purchasing internal combustion engines (ICEs) may appear cheaper on average when compared to EVs, transitioning to a fullly electric fleet can drastically reduce expenditures in the long run. Furthermore, federal, state, and local incentives can help ease the initial transition from ICEs to EVs by providing discount on vehicles, charging equipment, and more. 

Unlike gasoline and diesel fuel costs, which are prone to volatility due to fluctuating supply and demand, electrical costs exhibit greater stability, especially when coupled with additional electrification technologies generating renewable energy. The consistent nature of electrical costs enables more accurate cost predictions and facilitates effective planning for fleet managers.  

By transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs), fleet managers can benefit from reduced volatility in operating costs, leading to improved profitability and greater financial stability. 

Infrastructure Setup 

Electrifying your fleet affects more than the vehicles; there are other costs associated with infrastructure. The installation of charging infrastructure and the necessary upgrades or modifications can impact the overall expenses. Moreover, fleet owners should explore various electrification technologies and incentives that may further reduce the financial impact as they seek to make any necessary infrastructure upgrades.  

By evaluating these factors, fleet owners can determine the most cost-effective approach to electrifying their fleet and optimize the financial benefits of embracing EVs. For example, it is possible to reduce costs further by applying solar technologies or by creating micro and nanogrids that will increase energy independence and reduce your reliance on the grid, especially during scheduled times when energy costs are higher through time-of-use (TOU) programs. When the fleet is active, electricity generated may even be able to utilize net metering (NEM), depending on your location. 

Maintenance Costs 

Maintenance costs are generally lower for battery electric vehicles (BEVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). With fewer moving parts, such as belts and filters, the requirements for frequent maintenance and part replacement are greatly reduced. 

Standard friction breaking in ICEs creates a heavy toll on the components over time. As a result, brakes, pads, and the accompanying fluids such as coolant will require periodic replacement at significantly higher rates when compared to electric vehicles (EVs). The use of regenerative braking in EVs helps to extend the lifespan of braking components, resulting in lower maintenance costs and reduced frequency of replacements. 

However, as with any type of machinery, EVs will still require maintenance, especially concerning their batteries and battery systems. Proper care and periodic servicing of the batteries are essential to ensure optimal performance and longevity.  

Fleet managers should factor in the maintenance requirements specific to EV batteries when planning for the upkeep of their electric fleet. 

Reduced Emissions and Environmental Friendliness 

Reducing the carbon footprint is one of the largest driving factors promoting the transition to electrification technologies. The transition to an electric fleet reflects positively on organizations by demonstrating sustainability, eco-initiatives, and lowering overall costs to you and your consumers. 

Companies can further distinguish themselves from the competition by implementing marketing strategies centered around EVs. By emphasizing a commitment to sustainability and promoting the adoption of EVs, companies can enhance their brand image, attract environmentally conscious customers, and potentially forge partnerships with like-minded organizations. 

The high mileage of fleet vehicles, often surpassing 40 miles per day, contributes significantly to CO2 emissions. By replacing internal combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles, we can substantially lower these emissions. Additionally, this transition to EVs translates into substantial cost savings of thousands of dollars annually.  

By recognizing the environmental and financial benefits, fleet managers can make a positive impact while improving their bottom line. 

Employee Convenience and Benefit 

Company vehicles have long been a standard benefit that many employers offer their fleet employees. Having options for employees when converting from ICEs to EVs is paramount for a smooth transition, and the convenience of EV charging at home should not be overlooked. 

While DC Fast Charging stations (DCFC or Level 3 EV Charging Stations) and public Level 2 charging stations may be available for employees along their route, the most cost-effective option for fleet managers is to give their employees the ability to charge at home.  

This simple adjustment can alleviate much of the need to stop at high-cost charging stations. Additionally, employees with longer routes will have a reliable way to charge their EVs without having to worry about whether there is a line at the public charging stations. 

While charging an EV with an at-home Level 2 EV charger is ideal, there are still many types of chargers to consider, and your employees may need additional electrification services to support the installation of a charger. Tom Moloughney’s State of Charge covers charging options available on the market and their various benefits.  

Partnering with a professional electrification expert can give further insight into the best option available to meet each fleet and EV driver’s needs.  

Investing in an EV Fleet 

Fleet owners have many EV models and charging options to choose from, but it is important for fleet owners to make informed decisions that optimize their fleet’s performance and efficiency. The two largest decisions to make in your transition to an electric fleet are the selection of suitable EV models and the necessary infrastructure for their charging and maintenance, so it’s important to carefully weigh all options before proceeding.  

Light-duty or medium/heavy-duty options are available, but you should also consider the infrastructure required for charging and maintenance. 

Buses, large delivery, or refuse vehicles often require a return-to-base cycle for longer durations of Level 2 charging, or you may opt for DC fast charging (DCFC), which adds as much as 200 miles of travel distance within 30 minutes of charging but can lead to increased battery degredation with regular use. 

EVs are not limited to being solely electric. There are five different options available. While the exact range for each model will fluctuate depending on the driver’s habits, payloads, and vehicle systems, range variations may make one type of EV more desirable than others depending on your company needs. 

Therefore, you should recognize the benefits and disadvantages of all available options. 

  • Battery electric vehicles (BEVs): Fleet owners commonly consider BEVs when transitioning to EVs. They run entirely on batteries with no ICE. 
  • Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs): HEVs are the next step up from an ICE. HEVs utilize a battery, in addition to ICE, that recharges through regenerative braking, and does not have standard plug-in capabilities.  
  • Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs): As the name states, they can also charge the battery using a Level 1 or Level 2 charger. It’s important to note that PHEVs cannot utilize Level 3 DCFC stations.  
  • Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs): FCEVs are less conventional due to the rarity of hydrogen charging stations. FCEVs utilize a fuel cell that can need to be recharged at hydrogen stations. These fuel cells produce no carbon emissions, but the cost of hydrogen fuel can be higher than that of standard gasoline. 
  • Extended Range Electric Vehicles (E-REVs): E-REVs are commonly mistaken for HEVs but do not have a parallel drivetrain. The ICE is used in lieu of a backup motor for the battery to alleviate range stress. 

Charging Infrastructure 

Once you decide on the type/types of EV you want, you can design the infrastructure. Light-duty EVs do not often require substantial modification to infrastructure, but there is the potential necessity to upgrade electrical panels to handle Level 2 charging capabilities with the transition to an electric fleet. This is determined through load management calculations and is vital to the long-term safety of installing an EV charger or other electrification technology. 

Depending on vehicle quantity and whether Level 3 charging is necessary for the type of EVs you are using, infrastructure demands may require more meticulous planning. Home-based fleets can get complicated quickly and fleet managers often accept the responsibility of working with employees to install charging stations at each of their homes. Permanent electrical upgrades may need to be done to handle increased electrical loads and connections, and every home has its differences, which does mean installations and equipment costs can vary drastically. 

As a fleet manager, the planning shouldn’t fall on your shoulders alone, especially with all the moving pieces of transitioning your fleet. 

Getting Started with a Trusted Partner 

Finding an electrification technology partner that knows the industry is crucial for both the planning process and for finding the most cost-effective Level 2 charging station implementation strategies and incentives, which will save you time, money, and stress. 

And with over 269,000 EV charging station installations to date, Qmerit’s experts are able to help and easily scale your project to meet the needs of your fleet. Transitioning home-based fleets from gas-powered to electric vehicles is made easy with Qmerit’s Charge@Home for Fleet™ solution strategies. 

Backed by guaranteed satisfaction and support, there’s a reason Qmerit is the most trusted electrification services installer in North America. Fleet managers interested in a seamless switch to a distributed electric fleet should contact Qmerit today.

Author: Ken Sapp

Ken Sapp

Senior Vice President, Business Development and eMobility