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Fleets Prepare for a Green Future

Over the last several years, there has been an accelerating trend toward sustainable fleet management. Higher quality and more advanced electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming widely available, and upfront expenses are declining. At the same time, we have seen large corporations take a turn towards corporate social responsibility. 

Whether driven by conscience, government incentives, or lower fuel/maintenance costs, commercial fleet directors consider fleet electrification benefits with increasing regularity and enthusiasm. Additionally, businesses now compete in an increasingly green-conscious world, and switching to EVs could be the best strategic route for their futures. 

Major companies are beginning to make commitments to electrify large portions od their fleets. Amazon made headlines last year by ordering 100,000 electric vans from Rivian. In August of this year (2020), they ordered another 1,800 electric vans from Mercedes Benz. 

Most recently, Walmart announced plans to electrify its entire fleet by 2040, including all long-haul trucks. While this change may seem a long way off, it signifies that we are rounding the turn of EVs’ mass-adoption.

Benefits of Electric Fleets: While the upfront cost of purchasing/leasing an EV is typically more significant than the price of a similar gas/diesel model, many commercial fleet managers are already anticipating a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for these vehicles. This is because the higher upfront purchase costs are offset over time by distinctly cheaper operating costs. Depending on the mileage driven, the ownership period, and other factors, electric fleet vehicles could produce significant savings.

1. Reduced Fuel Costs: The cost to power an EV is substantially less than the cost of gasoline or diesel. Example: a gasoline-powered vehicle achieving 30 miles per gallon costs about 10 cents per mile to fuel, given a gasoline cost of $3 per gallon. In contrast, the average electricity price of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour means that a typical EV costs about 3 cents per mile to operate. 

2. Reduced Maintenance Costs: Fleet managers will find that EVs dramatically reduce maintenance burdens. There are no engines to service, which means that there are none of the associated components either. Fuel filters, spark plugs, radiators, and other gasoline-specific equipment are a thing of history.

“The drivetrain in an ICE vehicle contains 2,000+ moving parts typically, whereas the drivetrain in an EV contains around 20.” (InsideEvs.com)

Electric drivetrains are functionally less-complex than conventional drivetrains; a battery electric vehicle has a single moving part (the electric motor). The transmissions inside EVs are also simpler and do not require fluid replacement. Features like regenerative braking significantly reduce wear on brake pads and rotors. Commercial fleets operating EVs currently report cost reductions of more than 50% on maintenance regardless of vehicle class.

3. Reduced Emissions: The transportation sector is accountable for over a quarter of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States. Therefore it is little wonder that we see ambitious emission reduction goals. Electric vehicles produce none of the tailpipe gases associated with conventional vehicles. Gases like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and the ever infamous carbon dioxide (CO2) don’t exist in the EV world. Even a small fleet of electric vehicles can eliminate millions of pounds of carbon emissions. Given the large presence of commercial fleets in urban environments, going electric would significantly improve air quality for city-dwellers. 

Charging Infrastructure Needs

When the cost of Evs reach similar pricing as diesel and gas-powered vehicles, many companies will begin the transition to realize fuel savings. However, there are some complications, particularly charging infrastructure. In a 2018 study, GreenBiz determined that many companies view inadequate onsite charging infrastructure as a major barrier to entry. 

Fortunately, companies like Miller Electric are helping to break down that barrier. With the mass adoption of EVs nearing, we consider it our duty to participate in this transformation. Our teams have years of experience installing all levels of charging stations and the corresponding infrastructure for a wide variety of commercial and public entities. Our clients include auto dealerships, corporate offices, retail spaces, universities, and local governments. We have the capability and experience required to speed up the mass-adoption of electric fleets.

As fleet sustainability becomes more prevalent and feasible, more and more environmentally-conscious fleet managers advocate for vehicle electrification as the core of their sustainability strategy. As these managers consider the Total Cost of Ownership and the vast reduction in carbon emissions, we can expect to see many corporations make the switch to electric fleets. A greener future is on the horizon.

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