Although electric vehicles (EVs) are primarily marketed toward individual drivers, targeting information at commercial fleet managers can be very impactful in the proliferation of consumer EV ownership.

With the U.S. pledging to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels in the Paris Agreement, the transportation sector is a key focus, as it accounts for the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions, with gasoline-powered light-duty passenger vehicles responsible for the greatest portion. Since fleet vehicles often have high utilization rates, they have an outsized influence on emissions, despite being only 3 percent of the vehicles on the road. The U.S. will be unable to meet decarbonization goals until light-duty vehicles are overwhelmingly converted to electric options.

The federal government intends to lead by example by electrifying the federal fleet. President Joe Biden has made a pledge to electrify the federal government’s 650,000 vehicles, but the plan isn’t new – cities around the country are already in the process of or looking at electrifying their fleets. In addition, many U.S. mayors are encouraging school districts to consider electrifying the nearly 500,000 school buses across the country, and there are even very intriguing pilots of vehicle to grid technology that can lead to greater system reliability.

While there is a considerable amount of information supporting the individual buyer, less has been focused on fleet managers. Yet, large scale conversion of fleets from gasoline to electric vehicle fleets can drive scale of EV adoption in a way individual ownership can’t.

Recognizing the value of converting to electric vehicle fleets, corporations managing some of the largest fleets in the U.S., such as Amazon, DHL, AT&T, Consumers Energy, Direct Energy, Siemens, Lime and Ikea, have signed on to be founding members of the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance.

Energy utilities have a critical role to play in the electric vehicle fleet conversion process, acting as key advisors to commercial customers interested in a move to electric vehicle fleets. Commercial fleet managers frequently juggle procurement, maintenance and usage schedules, leaving little time for learning about and navigating the electric vehicle fleet space, let alone the charging infrastructure required to support such a fleet conversion.

Yet, the cost and carbon savings associated with converting some of the most-used fleet vehicles can be incredibly impactful. An EV’s lithium-ion battery pack is one of the major factors in an EV’s higher price point, alongside the high demand relative to the supply of vehicles. As the number of models almost doubles and the cost of batteries falls $100 per kilowatt hour, EVs will reach price parity with Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles by 2025. A Consumer Reports study found EV owners saved an average of $4,600 in repair and maintenance costs over a vehicle’s lifetime. Add to this the fact that an eGallon, the electric equivalent cost to a gallon of gasoline, is roughly half as much.

Utilities have the opportunity to educate their commercial customers about the cost savings of electrical vehicle fleets or go a step further and support them with electric vehicle fleet suitability assessments that can analyze driving habits, vehicle downtime and other factors and produce a report of the financial and carbon savings a fleet can expect to see by converting from one to all of its vehicles. Utilities also can help fleet managers determine, including the number of charging stations needed at business and take-home locations to support conversion, and the expected frequency and duration of vehicle charging.

Supporting customers with data and analysis is an immensely powerful step. More than a few utilities leveraged Geotab’s FleetCarma technology to help customers assess the feasibility of electric vehicle fleet conversion and make the switch. Further, a new Geotab report shows early adoption can ease the way for a broader fleet conversion and result in considerable impact to the bottom line.

The data will also help facility managers to determine whether they need to work with their local utility to upgrade their electrical service to handle the additional load. Many utilities have already initiated fruitful partnerships with their commercial customers for load management to determine the best times for charging to benefit both the fleet and utility.

Recognizing many fleet vehicle are taken home, fleet managers need to consider how to outfit employee homes with EV chargers, maintain that equipment and reimburse employees for the electricity used when charging vehicles at home.

To encourage the timely expansion of electric vehicle fleets, utilities should be working closely with fleet managers to educate them on the cost and environmental benefits of EVs and illustrate how they can fit into their business models.

HomeServe can help with concerns about installing EVSE at home, making it easier for fleet managers to monitor how much electricity fleet vehicles are drawing at employees’ homes and providing a warranty to cover the cost of any unexpected malfunctions, helping manage their maintenance costs. For more information, contact us.

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