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What’s required to transition to electric vehicles?

Adding an electric vehicle (or two) to your fleet five years ago was easy. All you needed to do was purchase the vehicle and arrange for the installation of one charging station. For most organisations it was only a trial and no one was thinking about how to transition their entire fleet.

In 2023, the world has changed. Government agencies and publicly listed companies are in the spotlight for the emissions they generate, and transport is one of the major contributors to CO2. Fleet Managers can still trial EVs, though it needs to be part of a plan to transition the entire fleet to zero emission vehicles within five or ten years.

When purchasing twenty or more electric vehicles for various applications with the charging infrastructure to support to them, it will stretch the capability and capacity of the team responsible for running the traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) fleet. The fleet team will need to update their skills and knowledge and adapt to a new era of fleet management.

Where to start?

If you’re in the fleet team and feeling overwhelmed by an impending EV transition, the best place to start is with drivers and leaders within your business that are EV enthusiasts. These internal champions will be happy to join the project and work through the challenges. They’ll see the issues as opportunities and encourage other staff to get involved.

You can also lean on suppliers and business partners for tips and advice. Every fleet that has started the transition to electric vehicles has made mistakes and most are happy to share what they have learnt to help other organisations through the transition.

Don’t underestimate the challenge

Converting a fleet to zero or low emissions vehicles (ZLEV) is a massive project that will touch all parts of the business requiring several hard conversations about capital and operational budgets, fleet optimisation and sustainability targets.

With the replacement of an ICE vehicle, the fleet team will decide on the vehicle, confirm the requirements with operations and raise a purchase order for an established supplier. Once the vehicle is delivered, a fuel card is issued and that’s it for another five years.

Starting an EV transition reverses this process and may paralyse some organisations as the number of stakeholders being consulted grows with each new step.

Here’s some of helpful steps to purchase your first electric vehicle:

  1. Develop a sustainability plan that includes a target to reduce fleet emissions.
  2. Conduct an analysis of your fleet to identify which vehicles can be replaced with electric vehicles.
  3. Decide on a process for charging vehicles:
    • Onsite at the workplace;
    • Journey – charging on the go using a network similar to a fuel card;e at the workplace;
    • At the employee’s home.
  4. Update fleet policies to reflect the new sustainability plan to include things like:
    • When and how to charge the vehicle;
    • The impacts of the FBT exemption and information on Reportable FBT;
    • Eco driving tips and how to use regenerative braking.
  5. Communicate the sustainability plan and new fleet policy to all staff.
  6. Implement staff education and EV awareness programs.
  7. Place the order for the new electric vehicle.

Not everyone is ready

Developing a transition plan doesn’t require you to purchase electric vehicles in 2023. It’s a starting point that can be adapted and updated to suit the needs of the organisation and changes in technology.

After conducting some initial investigations and analysis, the plan might involve purchasing hybrids or reducing the fleet size. It might involve installing solar panels on buildings to support onsite EV charging in five years. For fleets with light commercials and trucks, there may be no viable options available in the market, so the plan is to sit tight for a few years.

Unless the organisation wants to be an early adopter with zero emission vehicles, a plan may be all a Fleet Manager needs at this early stage of the EV transition.

Written by
Marc Sibbald

Marc is a Senior Content Writer at Fleet Auto News and has an extensive background working within the fleet management industry.

We welcome him as a guest blogger to Fleettorque.

Follow Marc on LinkedIn.

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