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How to manage energy costs and lower carbon emissions with electric fleets

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Joe Gorman, director UK and Ireland at ChargePoint

Covid-19 has forced people around the world to change their everyday habits and adapt to a new normal, impacting every industry and every sector.

The delivery fleet industry is no exception and even when the pandemic fades, consumers may remain entrenched in new habits and continue to make online purchases that must be delivered quickly. 

Consumers increasingly expect fast deliveries as well companies committed to sustainability: reports have noted that 80% of shoppers want same-day shipping and 81% of consumers feel strongly that companies should help to improve the environment.

However, it is not just consumers that are backing the move to greener deliveries, the recent Government announcement to ban new petrol and diesel cars in the UK from 2030 adds more impetus for fleets to get to grip with electrification sooner rather than later.

Cost savings, sustainability goals and regulations make now the time for fleets to electrify

Electrification is not, however, another government sanctioned cost to your business.

Large fleets are, by their nature, expensive to fuel and maintain. Electric vehicles (EVs) offer significant advantages when it comes to fuelling and maintenance costs.

According to a study from UPS and GreenBiz, sustainability goals and a lower cost of ownership are the leading reasons for large organisations to go electric.

Most companies have established sustainability goals, and fleet electrification offers a measurable way to help meet them.

Electric vehicles also unlock reduced operating costs that become even more essential as fleets grow.

Electricity is less expensive and offers more predictable pricing than fossil fuel.

It also allows fleets to optimise charging activity for the most efficient and least expensive use of energy, including renewable sources.

Charging can be scheduled when electricity rates are low and fleets can set power ceilings to avoid expensive utility demand charges.

Due to fewer moving parts, EVs require significantly less maintenance: no oil changes and almost no part replacements.

This not only cuts costs, but also allows EVs to spend more time working and less time under repair orders in the workshop. 

New York City analysed maintenance costs and found that EV maintenance costs were only 20-25% of the costs of maintaining vehicles with combustion engines.

In other words, going electric could reduce a fleet maintenance budget by 75-80%.

This twinned with fuel savings, means that even with the current higher (but falling) cost of purchase, electric fleets are estimated to have a 15-25% lower TCO than those with ICE vehicles by 2030.

It is clear then that whilst electrification is something you can’t avoid, buying in fully early can offer you significant cost and consumer relation benefits. But how best to go about it?

How to streamline fleet practices post-Covid and how this will help the UK with further EV adoption

A major challenge with electrification efforts is that there are so many stakeholders within any single business.

It is imperative to streamline this so decisions and strategies can be implemented faster in order to keep up with rapidly changing consumer demand.

Energy managers need to be brought into the fleet team to help plan out the charging infrastructure.

Many depots have surprisingly constraining grid connections or are close to full capacity already.

Including energy managers early and choosing the right solution is key to streamlining the electrification process. 

Smart charging is the only rational option for that solution.

This allows charging stations to monitor, manage, and restrict the use of charging devices to optimise energy consumption, thus actively and passively managing spikes in demand. 

For example, whole networks or individual depots can lower charging rates during peak times or create an artificial peak by charging numerous vehicles at their maximum rate simultaneously and therefore contribute to increase the share of renewable power intake in the energy system.

It also allows for a larger number of vehicles to charge simultaneously without the need for costly grid upgrades and for cheaper electricity tariffs to be leveraged when dynamic pricing is in place.

They also offer the ability to control costs by setting a power ceiling to avoid demand charges and even install more EV charging stations, so that additional cars can charge through power management.

For depot and fleet managers, ensuring uptime is crucial and the thought of reinventing the wheel through electrification can be the stuff of nightmares.

Advances in fleet management software and its integration within your charging infrastructure can offer peace of mind.

This allows for fleet managers or their existing software to allocate vehicles online, see what vehicles are available for their desired time slots and distribute the vehicles (dependent on charge, route length or a whole host of variables) to ensure that all routes can be covered. 

Ensuring the whole fleet team and company is open and aware of the implications and potential pitfalls of the process is key for a successful switch.

Whilst this is now something that is inevitable for your business, entering the process early will allow you to gain critical institutional knowledge early, and put you in a position to make the most of cost and CO2 savings ahead of your completion. 

Click here for electric cars and hybrids best practice and procurement insight

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