Expert insight: taking the first steps on the road to zero
A panel of industry experts share their experience of managing the change to EVs on fleets across Europe.
An electric vehicle revolution is on the way and many leasing companies and large fleet operators are already to preparing for it. The timing of this revolution varies from country to country and is still dependent on local fiscal and other incentives, but the direction of travel is clear: by the early 2020s, the next generation of electric vehicles will be the default option for an increasing number of fleets.
In the Nordic countries, the penetration of EVs continues to grow rapidly. In Norway, sales of pure EVs grew by 40 per cent last year and EVs now account for 1 in every 3 new car sales.
Fleet managers need to be ready for the transition, because senior management will soon demand it. The incentives may be purely financial, but will more likely be a combination of cost, environmental, reputational and – in some cases – operational. It is entirely possible that in some states or regions, operating a diesel delivery van within an urban environment may become prohibitively expensive.
Not 'if' but 'how'
Balázs Szabó, CEO of Konetik GmbH, a Berlin-based company helping businesses to integrate electric vehicles into their daily operations with an EV feasibility and charging advisor is emphatic about the way ahead for fleet operators: “For most companies, by 2020, it’s not a case of if they should switch to electric vehicles – it’s a question of how.”
“About three years ago, we noticed that some fleets wanted to figure out if EVs could work for them, so we adapted our existing software and telematics platform to evaluate whether they could replace conventional vehicles with EVs. “Using real world data captured from their fleets, we were able to run simulations that would establish whether EVs were operationally viable and also calculate the potential savings of switching to EVs."
“After the first 20 projects, it became clear that charging provision is critical to avoid any disruption to the efficient running of the business. Working out a practical charging strategy before making the switch is critical. This might involve installing charge stations at employees’ homes as well as at work and establishing what provision for top-up charging exists."
“Our customers’ priority in working out their electrification strategies aren’t just down to cost – many publicly listed companies are placing more emphasis on their environmental obligations. They need to be reassured that switching to EVs won’t affect their operational efficiency, but it’s important to remember that there is a risk in continuing to run diesel vehicles that may have an operational impact down the line."
“There is a significant risk that a diesel vehicle bought this year might not be able to reach some of your customers by 2022 – which will have an impact if your replacement cycle is 4 or 5 years.”
Sustainable business case
Geotab European VP Edward Kulperger suggests fleets begin simulating EV suitability assessments to encourage EV adoption.
“Fleet managers should begin with a pragmatic operational and technically supported analysis of the fleet which will open up new, often unexpected perspectives that may support immediate conversions to EVs in one area, but makes it obvious that changing to EVs in other parts of the business would be premature."
“Fleet managers should also think about building a business case for making changes that improve the bottom line, while also protecting or enhancing the company’s reputation by seeking to reduce energy consumption, carbon output, particulate and greenhouse gas emissions."
“Switching to EVs is a true win-win from a sustainability perspective – helping to improve an organization’s bottom line while reducing its environmental and social impact. Converting fleets to EVs will result in the following: Reduced fuel usage, lower maintenance costs, improved brand image and reduced environmental pollution."
“Our EV suitability assessment collects high quality vehicle-side data to support budgetary decisions by accurately forecasting ROI and calculating the overall cost of ownership per vehicle."
“Not only does this build the financial case for fleet managers, it also forecasts the reduction of greenhouse gases based on a variety of fleet compositions, so that fleet managers can quantify the environmental and cost impact of transitioning.”
Author: Mark Sutcliffe