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But for many, it’s hard to know where to start. Fleet electrification can seem like a daunting task, especially if you have a large number of vehicles. How do you begin the electrification journey?
The first step is to understand what you’re going to gain.
The benefits of transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs) are numerous, including a reduced total cost of ownership, improved environmental impact, increased brand reputation, and a general reduction in operating costs.
Maintenance can be much easier as well since the vehicles don’t have pistons, valves, or other moving parts that require lubrication. What you get is a smooth, quiet vehicle with minimal noise and vibration.
The International Council on Clean Transportation estimates an overall 15% reduction in fuel and maintenance costs for commercial EV trucks over their diesel counterparts
Let’s take a look at the steps you can take to electrify your commercial vehicle fleet.
The first step in electrifying a commercial fleet vehicle fleet is to evaluate your needs. This includes identifying the types of vehicles currently in use, their range requirements, and the routes they typically take. You should also base your decision on the age of the vehicles, what needs to be replaced, your company’s sustainability goals, and your budget.
You can then establish which vehicles in your fleet are ideal candidates to replace with EVs.
Another important consideration is the charging infrastructure needed to support an electric fleet. This includes installing charging stations at your facilities and ensuring that there are charging options along the routes the vehicles take.
It is wise to consult an experienced expert that can make recommendations specific to your operations. Reaching out to a qualified sales expert is usually the way to go.
Once you have determined your needs, it’s time to evaluate the available options for electric commercial vehicles. This includes assessing the range, payload capacity, and other features of the vehicles, as well as the cost and availability of charging infrastructure.
Moreover, a company should scout available vehicles from OEMs that could serve as suitable replacements. There are a growing number of electric commercial vehicle options available, including vans, trucks, and buses.
For class 4 and 5 medium-duty electric trucks, Daimler Truck has launched the RIZON brand in the United States.
Due to all of the variables associated with electrifying a fleet, a successful transition is aided by a collaboration between the fleet operator and the supplier. Manufacturers or their partners typically have a lot of experience to draw on with helping companies develop charging infrastructures.
Suppliers can help identify the right chargers for a fleet depending on the operational parameters: hours of operation, available time for charging, and battery consumption during a vehicle’s service among others.
Furthermore, they may be able to offer advice on smart-charging systems that use cloud-based monitoring and management that helps with scheduling by providing real-time information or charging status and charger availability based on fleet scheduling.
This includes determining the number and location of charging stations and the level of charging power required.
Whatever the case, opening communication with a business with experience helping companies electrify is an important step.
You will likely need to upgrade your electrical system to support the increased demand for electricity. This will require consulting with a local utility company to understand the effects of the demand in terms of strain on the grid, pricing, and capacity.
In addition to understanding the infrastructure requirements, you must also ensure that your drivers have the knowledge and training necessary to operate the new electric vehicles.
Technicians also need to be trained to maintain not only the vehicles but also the chargers, which includes software updating and checking coolant levels and filters. Scheduled maintenance needs to be conducted on chargers to mitigate the impact on fleet operations.
As technicians have to be high-level certified electricians, their expert knowledge and skillsets are much different than those of technicians that maintain internal combustion engine fleets.
After you select suitable vehicles, you should develop a deployment plan. This includes determining how many vehicles you want to introduce, where they’ll be stationed, the routes they’ll take, and when they will be charged.
Charging requires careful planning. Any downtime means a reduction of vehicle time on the road, which is critical for a business.
Therefore, fleet managers have to determine when a vehicle will be available for charging and how long the charging will take for it to be ready for the next shift. So careful timetables for charging should be established for each vehicle in order to avoid costly downtime.
In the case of RIZON, our trucks support level 2 AC charging and DC fast charging for greater flexibility.
One topic on the minds of many organizations making the transition to an EV fleet is range. Range anxiety continues to be a barrier to greater adoption of electric vehicles.
However, with proper knowledge and planning the issue can be successfully mitigated range anxiety and making drivers confident. Range is simply applicable to a fleet’s normal duty cycle.
A prepared fleet manager will have a plan in place for where and when vehicles need to be charged. They will also understand the charging time and schedule vehicles accordingly.
Finally, it’s important to monitor and optimize the performance of an electric fleet over time. This includes tracking metrics such as energy consumption, charging times, vehicle range, and battery health.
By analyzing this data, you can identify areas for improvement and optimize your fleets to reduce costs and maximize efficiency.
Transitioning to an electric commercial vehicle fleet can seem daunting given the complexities and variables, but through early planning understanding needs, evaluating available options, developing a deployment plan, addressing infrastructure needs, and monitoring and optimizing performance, a company can reap the benefits of reduced emissions, improved efficiency, and cost savings that electric vehicles can provide.