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6 Tips for Adding Electric Vehicles to Your Fleet

  • May 25, 2021
  • Dave Downs
  • Reading Time: 3 minutes
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Illustration of an electric vehicle at charging station and smartphone telematics app Telematics data can drive strategic decisions around EV integration and help you manage an EV or mixed fleet. (Credit: Feodora Chiosea/Shutterstock)

Most fleet managers are planning to bring EVs into their vehicle mix, and for good reason. When used strategically, EVs can reduce operation and maintenance costs and of course lower your carbon emissions.

If you’re considering adding EVs to your fleet or you’re in the process of deciding what vehicles to add or how many, advance planning with the help of a telematics-based fleet management system can smooth the transition. Start with these six steps.

1. Determine the total cost of ownership

Many EVs cost more upfront, but that premium purchase price is usually offset over the long term by lower operating and maintenance costs. To understand the ROI of adding EVs, calculate the total cost of ownership for the models you’re considering. Compare those costs to the TCO for your current internal combustion engine (ICE) fleet. Maintenance records and fuel consumption reports from a telematics-based fleet management system can help you here. Knowing the TCO for all your vehicles will help you choose the right EVs for your fleet.

2. Identify your best EV routes

If you’re working toward a mixed fleet, some routes or areas will be better served by ICEs and some by EVs. A telematics-based fleet management solution can provide visibility into the miles and routes your ICE vehicles typically travel every day.

By analyzing this data and the expected range of the EVs you’re considering, you’ll be able to determine which routes can be taken over by EVs — and therefore how many EVs you’ll want to purchase — as well as how much you’ll be relying on public charging stations for recharging vehicles while they’re on the road.

Keep in mind that factors such as weather, temperature and hills affect EV performance. Telematics data can help prepare you to ensure that the most appropriate routes are assigned to your EVs.

3.  Lean on fleet management tools to alleviate range anxiety

Range anxiety is one of the biggest concerns among fleet owners when it comes to integrating EVs. Analyzing your routes and knowing the maximum range of the EV models you plan to purchase will help.

Once you have EVs in your fleet, you’ll want to leverage your fleet management solution to make sure drivers aren’t stranded. With CalAmp iOn™, for example, you’ll be able to quickly see on a map the location of all your vehicles and their type (a battery icon designates an EV and an engine icon designates an ICE), which can help you direct drivers to a charging station if necessary.

The fleet management solution you use should provide real-time state of charge reporting and also low-charge alerts. Some solutions  allow you to track the energy consumed while operating the vehicle and see any energy added to the battery from regenerative braking.  

If you anticipate the EV will need a charge to complete its route, you can alert the driver and direct them to the appropriate charging station.

4. Identify public charging stations

For vehicles that will need to be charged while on the road, be prepared with a charging plan. Use the map overlay feature on your fleet management solution to identify public charging stations along your routes and filter them by type. You can save money and time, and keep your EVs on the move, by determining ahead of time the best recharging options.

If you plan to purchase Tesla vehicles, look into Tesla’s Supercharger network.

You’ll want to also investigate how employees will pay for charging. Some networks offer payment cards or app settings that allow you to manage billing in a central location.

5. Determine what charging infrastructure you’ll need

Calculate how many chargers your company will need, where you’ll put them, and whether some of your drivers will need chargers at home. The ideal number and type of chargers will depend on a number of factors, including the size of your EV fleet and the way you deploy it.

If your fleet operates mainly during the day, Level 2 chargers, which can fully charge a vehicle overnight, might be your best option. Level 3 chargers, also called DC fast chargers, may be a better option if your fleet is operating constantly with little downtime. A Level 3 charger can fully power up a vehicle in less than an hour, but it is considerably more expensive to purchase and install and requires more electricity than the slower chargers. Some EVs are not compatible with level 3 chargers.

Level 1 chargers may be adequate for home use.

6. Plan when you’ll charge

The cost of charging depends in part on local electricity rates. Charging at off-peak hours typically costs less, so determine how long the vehicles you’re looking at take to charge based on the types of charging stations you’ll be using. Then see if your operations allow you to charge overnight.

EVs are the future. Careful planning with the benefit of telematics data can help you strategically integrate them into your fleet to green your operations, meet government emissions mandates and generate savings for your organization.

Discover how our all-new CalAmp iOn fleet management app can help you manage your fleet, and stay tuned for future EV enhancements.