This article was originally published IPWEA Fleet e-news.
– By Rob Wilson – Director IPWEA FLEET –
Increasingly organisations are choosing to introduce electric vehicles (EVs) into their fleets. Often this is driven by corporate policy on CO2 emission reduction which in turn requires the fleet manager to deliver the transition process. This transition may follow a toe-in-the-water type approach, piloting a couple of hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) or battery electric vehicles (BEV) or alternatively, and typically with greater effect, may take a more holistic and structured approach to implementation with specific targets in mind.
While EVs are currently more expensive than Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles from both a capital and whole-of-life perspective, this cost premium is reducing.
According to Nathan Dunlop Head of Marketing at Brisbane based Tritium, one of the world leaders in manufacturing DC fast chargers, price parity of ICE and EV vehicles will occur around 2025. Further, the EV market will continue to develop with all of the top 10 manufacturers having made commitments to electrification.
Making the transition to EVs is more than just buying or leasing the vehicles. Successful transition has to be planned and managed through implementation, taking into account specific organisational change management issues, to ensure the new technology is embedded. The IPWEA Fleet Winter Webinar Series recently brought together a number of thought leaders on this topic to share their views.
Making the decision
Often the decision to adopt EVs will be a policy decision and not an economic one. Currently, upfront costs carry a significant premium. However, maintenance and fuel costs are lower with EVs. Notwithstanding, on a whole-of-life basis EVs currently carry a premium of around 60%.
For the City of Whitehorse, the decision to transition to EVs was based on the Council’s sustainability strategy and the fleet department’s approach to providing fit for purpose assets. According to Simon Kinsey, Manager City Works, Whitehorse is well placed for EV adoption with most vehicles travelling less than 100 kilometres per day and returning to base each night for charging.
Beyond cost and CO2, there are other benefits with EVs that are not always considered. According to Alexander Kelly of Electric Vehicle Council, EVs provide significant health benefits. “60% more people die from vehicle emissions than from car crashes” notes Kelly.
Like any change initiative the introduction of EV’s needs to be robustly planned and managed. Warren Mashford, Manager Fleet Services at City of Canterbury Bankstown, strongly believes staff acceptance is a key consideration to a successful transition.
Accordingly, Mashford put a strong emphasis on change management and communication with stakeholders to address staff concerns about matters such as breakdowns, vehicle performance and range anxiety. Mashford provided training for drivers and workshop staff to make sure they were comfortable with the inclusion of EVs.
“Information and education need to happen and is critical from the outset”, says Mashford.
Fitness-for-purpose is a key principle in fleet management and it certainly applies to EVs. Think about the tasks to be undertaken and make sure EVs are suited to the task, otherwise the program is doomed. Interestingly Canterbury Bankstown have converted the rear passenger space in vehicles to provide greater stowage space.
Communication should not be limited to drivers and should include the management and governance teams be it the board, council or executive. It is also important to get other parts of the organisation involved. Specialist areas in your organisation such as the sustainability or WHS department can be great allies.
It is important to have a change champion. For Whitehorse this is Fleet Support Officer Catherine Singh. Singh initially organised to lease a number of vehicles to commence the EV journey. As such the organisation was able to build awareness and acceptance as transition continued beyond passenger vehicles into specialist heavy vehicles.
“We have now received an SEA Electric truck that has an elevating work platform” says Singh.
Fleet managers should call on resources available to them. Consider industry participants such as manufacturers, charge companies, government and peak bodies such as EVC.
Governments are starting to release policies and strategies to support EV take up. For example, the NSW Government released its Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Plan in January 2019 and is currently looking to expand this by developing an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Model Availability Program to fast-track the growth of electric vehicles.
The Charge Together Fleets program provides significant resources to help fleets adopt EVs. The Charge Together Fleets initiative has been developed by EVC in conjunction with Evenergi and with input from a range of key stakeholders including IPWEA. The program provides vehicle Lists, FAQ, business case templates and webinars.
An important aspect of the Charge Together Fleets platform is the Better Fleet Tool to help build a business case for EVs quickly. The tool enables you to compare the cost of an ICE with a comparable EV. Users can use a range of pre-populated and / or customisable inputs to build the business case relevant in their context.
AC or DC? It will depend on your requirements and budget. AC chargers are lower cost but have slower charge rates and are used at home or the workplace. DC chargers are for fast charging and are typically used in retail or roadside charge stations. As a rule of thumb, a kW will provide a kilometre of charge in 10 minutes. On this basis a 150kW charger would provide 150 kilometres range in 10 minutes of charge.
There are also different plugs. Most Japanese cars have a CHAdeMO design and the Europeans and North Americans use CCS (Combined Charging System). However, according to Tritium’s Nathan Dunlop most chargers cater for both designs.
Dunlop advises that when designing charging at the depot you need to think about workflow and the layout of the depot.
“If you are going to install a number of high capacity chargers, you need to be engaging with your power supplier and grid operators to consider high voltage connections and with charger providers and planners to make sure technical and regulatory issues are met”, says Dunlop.
The key message is that to successfully transition to EVs an organisation needs to take a structured and planned approach to implementation. It’s not just about the technology, implementation needs to be managed and embedded. Fleet managers should collaborate with others on the EV journey and make use of the increasing range of resources available to make the shift.
EVC is working to increase collaboration so that fleet managers don’t have to re-invent the wheel. As such EVC is keen to publish policy and project case studies, especially from local government organisations. If you would like to share your EV implementation experience please contact EVC direct at firstname.lastname@example.org