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Clean Transport

Fleet How-To: Pick The Best Electric Vehicle And Charging Plan

Converting to electric vehicles for fleets has never been more compelling, and the recent rise in gas and diesel fuel prices has hammered that home. Fleet managers across the US and globally are facing pressure to electrify their fleets. There are many considerations and decisions that come with making the switch or adding EVs to their fleet. What electric vehicle should we choose? How do we efficiently manage the charging and payments for those EVs? How do we find enough vehicles when supply is still limited? With initial funding and resources that may be needed for EVs, how do we manage the economics in the short term? 

These questions might be daunting at first. Let’s look at a few things to consider and steps to take to answer those questions best. 

Consider Your Drivers 

When determining which electric vehicle is best for your fleet, the driver should be top of mind. If you want to successfully transition some or all your fleet, you must make sure it’s a positive experience for the people who use the vehicles — the drivers. An unhappy driver can create a negative perception of EVs and hinder electrification of your fleet. A happy driver can do the opposite and drive momentum for the transition. Consider interviewing them, surveying them, and simply trying to think from their shoes. Identify which drivers are most receptive to driving an EV and evaluate their unique needs, existing knowledge, and their take on different EVs. Additionally, a driver’s ability to charge at home, their daily range (e.g., not cross-country), and vehicle type are critical to assessing drivers and optimal charge plans that fit. Starting the EV journey with the right vehicles for the right drivers will help the transition to be a success.

Research Vehicle Availability

Once you zero in on a few models as candidates for your fleet, you’ll want to develop a timetable for replacing existing vehicles. Will you simply add new EVs to your fleet as fuel fleet vehicles are retired? Or will you replace multiple vehicles at once, using other criteria to determine the rollout schedule? If you are replacing multiple vehicles (or an entire fleet) at one time, you’ll need to make sure you have access to EVs. You will be competing with the demand from consumers as well other fleets. As manufacturers focus on meeting demand for EVs, larger vehicles such as trucks have even more limited supply with the wait even longer. 

 

Explore Range Issues and Charging Infrastructure

Range anxiety continues to be one of the largest barriers to EV adoption. Range anxiety is a common worry that affects drivers when they are initially introduced to EVs and can be a challenge if an appropriate plan is not in place. Ensuring there’s a proper range buffer and an optimal charge management plan will help maintain business as usual both for the company and the driver. 

Education on where and how to charge EVs will help turn driver anxiety into confidence. Consider selecting vehicles with ranges above your fleet’s normal duty cycle. The range needs to account for different driving speeds, road conditions, vehicle sizes, and the EV’s charging capability. The fleet manager will have to consider how fast a vehicle can charge and where the vehicle can charge when educating the drivers and coming up with a charge plan. Most drivers will need the flexibility to charge both on-the-go and at home. And for the latter, a company needs to consider if the driver’s home is conducive to installing a charge station. Home structure (single vs multi-dwelling), electricity source, weather proofing are just a few factors that will impact charge at-home capabilities. 

What Kind of Charging Does Your Driver Actually Need? 

It’s important to try to understand the various charging options and what your drivers need to complete their driving tasks. A driver who charges at home overnight may only need Level 1 or 2 charging. However, a driver who needs to charge on-the-go requires very rapid charging (DCFC) to get in and out quickly. For example:

  • Level 1 charging (1.3kW-2.4kW) typically yields up to 5 miles of EV range per hour and takes about 24 hours for a full charge.  
  • Level 2 charging (3kW-19kW) usually outputs up to 28 miles of range per hour and takes up to 8 hours for a full charge.  
  • Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFC) has max output of 350kW and can provide a full charge in just 1-2 hours.  

Home charging provides convenience, flexibility, and can be less disruptive to a driver’s workday. However, fleet managers should also enable the driver to charge on-the-go as well for ultimate flexibility and convenience.

Set Up Integrated Payment & Data Management Capabilities 

Companies want integrated payment and data management solutions no matter how their fleets power up — at home, on the highway, with traditional fuel, or electric charging. 

Comdata’s Mastercard® solution tracks and reports electric vehicle charging events, including charges at home.1 The reimbursement report calculates employee residential charging costs2 so fleet managers can have the option available to reimburse employees at home.3 Comdata Mastercard solution also enables drivers to pay for electric charging on the road where Mastercard is accepted.4                                           

Don’t jump into fleet electrification without a plan for how you will manage various types of charging, payments, and employee reimbursement calculations. Comdata® is your trusted advisor to help you manage your fleet – fuel, electric, or both. 

 

This article is supported by Comdata®.

 

1 Applicable only to eligible connected-vehicles. Requires vehicle owner consent and registration in connected-vehicle program. Vehicle eligibility determined during program registration.

2 Calculations are estimates only and not guaranteed by FLEETCOR, its products, or its subsidiaries. Estimates will vary based on average market costs, location, and your business’s actual charging patterns. Applicable only to eligible connected-vehicles. Requires vehicle owner consent and registration in connected-vehicle program. Vehicle eligibility determined during program registration.

3 Requires application and acceptance of Comdata OnRoad card for the employee. Employee can transfer eCash funds from the Comdata OnRoad card to their bank account or use the card anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

4 Accepted at public electric vehicle charging retailers everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Merchants are assigned a merchant category code by Mastercard and merchant category codes are subject to change. Merchants are categorized by Mastercard as fuel, maintenance, electric vehicle charging, or a different merchant category code based on the type of goods or services provided

 
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Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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