Effective strategies for transitioning fleets to electric

Switching to a more sustainable fleet may give rise to some concerns. Here is how to handle the transition.

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“While they may be keen to operate a cleaner fleet, businesses can be faced with risks during the transition that come down to uncertainty,” says Simon Cuenca at Lombard Vehicle Solutions. “Examples include vehicle price inflation, fluctuating used values, vehicle availability, driver take-up and ‘fit for purpose’ as well as charging infrastructure and energy costs.”

Other questions that face fleet managers include:

  • the health and safety practices around EVs
  • how to maximise battery range
  • how to carry out vehicle checks

One of the sharpest sources of anxiety is the behaviour of drivers, explains Simon. “Making sure they are not just a passenger on the journey, but play an integral role in/are part of making the transition. This is essential to the adoption of a sustainable fleet. They need to be motivated, they need to be educated and they need to adapt so your business can get the most from its investment.”

Businesses also need to talk to their drivers about what it means to drive an electric vehicle (EV). This should include what the benefits are to them and the environment, and sharing insights so they can see how and why they should change. To support this Lombard has teamed up with technology provider Diode to provide customers with a practical ‘EV Readiness Assessment’ tool to support driver engagement and transition insights.  Learn more about this here.

Establish your objectives

Whether it is benefits for drivers associated with lower Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) tax rates, or personal motivation on the drivers’ part to work more sustainably, businesses need to be honest about the main reason they are seeking to transition. Being clear on these objectives will help a business plan and measure performance more effectively. If your objectives don’t immediately engage your drivers, then it is essential to determine how you will get their buy-in. 

How much will it cost the business?

The financial implications of running a fleet of electrified vehicles should begin with a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis, and ideally LVS’ TCO+ approach, taking in to account the types of vehicles and their usage requirements. Aside from the cost to the business, ask how your drivers see the financial aspect. Ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs) and EVs can be an attractive choice for your car drivers because they attract lower BIK rates due to lower CO2 emissions. Therefore, they can help your benefits and remuneration package without resorting to pay increases alone. Considerations around electrified vans are likely to differ, but can provide drivers with an enhanced operating experience, with the potential to reduce costs and emissions for the business.

Consider the necessary infrastructure

An electrified fleet will typically require on-site charging infrastructure, which raises a few questions. Fundamentally, this focuses on the likely charging capacity and needs, but other questions to address early include:

  • How many charge points are required and what type? Is there sufficient capacity in the existing electricity supply?
  • Should you charge non-company car drivers and guests to use your charge points? How will both company and non-company drivers reimburse you?
  • How many of your drivers can install a home charge point, and should you contribute to the cost of installing them?
  • What is the policy and access to public charging for those drivers without access to home charging or that operate a vehicle across a wider geography?
  • How future-proof should your charging infrastructure be? For example, can it scale as the fleet transitions and does it provide data to support the optimisation of charging.

“The challenge for businesses is then how to switch to the right vehicles, and which to focus on first,” says Simon. The answer, he explains, might be dictated by a vehicle’s duty cycle, the load it carries if it is a light commercial vehicle, how often it returns to base, and whether the manufacturer has released an EV alternative to the existing ICE model. “These considerations might form the strategic ‘low-hanging fruit’ from which you can target first, learn some basic lessons and de-risk the process further. From there, businesses can tackle the more challenging transitions.”     

And finally, optimise…

Having done the hard parts, refine how your fleet is run so you can maximise your return on investment. This means monitoring your fleet to compare it with your original objectives. Data collection and telematics are essential inputs, but analysing what this means with respect to your objectives will help change the behaviour of drivers. Being able to measure and track this, and using insights to engage drivers to further enhance efficiency and speed of transition will support the business to maximise the transition benefits and minimise the risks associated. 

Let Lombard support you to accelerate the electrification of your vehicles.

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