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10 Jul 18

Fleets need new approach to calculate TCO of electric vehicles

Fleets need to formulate new ways to calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO of electric vehicles, rather than rely on the methodologies used for petrol and diesel cars, according to an expert in the field.

Gareth Dunsmore, electric vehicle director, Nissan Europe (pictured below), said fleets need to factor in savings from low cost or even free-of-charge energy, when working out the TCO of electric vehicles.

In addition, the initial investment costs of installing a recharging infrastructure should be amortised over several generations of vehicles, spreading the costs and lowering the TCO, said Dunsmore.

“Calculating TCOs needs a new approach,” he said. “We need fleets to change and evolve their business models, because the TCO of electric vehicles is drastically improved with solar energy. And, of course, you do not take back charge points when you sell an EV.”

Speaking at the Shell Powering Progress Together conference, Dunsmore highlighted how fleets across Europe were making cost effective use of electric vehicles without compromising their operational efficiency.

Zero emission in Spain

At Barcelona airport, for instance, taxis are using converted electric Nissan e-NV200 vans to shuttle passengers into the city and back again, and taking advantage of the queue time at the airport to recharge their batteries.

And major delivery firms are building depots outside city centres, and investing in electric vans to make the last mile deliveries into urban areas with sensitive air quality issues, said Dunsmore.

“A great example is Madrid, where from time to time the government says pollution is too bad and you can’t come in with your diesel van or your car. A delivery company that has made a commitment to deliver your goods and services needs electric vehicles to go in,” he said.

“We are trying to think holistically with businesses to try and build solutions that work, and to try and copy and paste those ideas and share them with other towns and cities.”

Vehicle to grid payback

Some of these concepts even hold out the prospect of generating revenue for fleets, with Nissan working with the utility firm Frederiksberg Forsyning, in Copenhagen, Denmark to explore the opportunities of vehicle to grid infrastructure, which allows electric vehicles to sell electricity back into the grid at times of peak demand and to recharge batteries at times of low demand.

“They are generating €40 per van per week,” said Dunsmore. “That will revolutionise the TCO for a fleet if they are plugging in their vehicles, sharing the leftover capacity in their battery, taking capacity when there’s too much wind or solar being produced and getting money for that. Suddenly you can start operating the fleet for free forever."

“We tend to see businesses that want to make mass changes in their fleets are also looking at mass changes in energy generation and storage as well.”

In a prime example of practising what it preaches, Nissan has invested heavily in a giant solar farm and wind turbines at its Sunderland factory, where it now generates 30% of its power use from renewable sources, said Dunsmore.

Authored by: Jonathan Manning