In 2020, electric vehicles (EVs) represented almost five percent of all new car sales, and seven percent in 2021. By 2030, experts predict EVs will represent 48 percent of all new car sales.
EVs can help you save on fuel costs, lower routine maintenance and gain a positive company image. However, there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding the basics of EV fleets, which can be a barrier to adopting them. These frequently asked questions and their answers will help you feel more prepared to electrify your fleet.
1. What are electric vehicles?
Electric vehicles are vehicles powered either partially or completely by electric power. Instead of using gas for power, electric vehicles are recharged. EVs encompass both hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
2. What are hybrid electric vehicles?
Hybrid electric vehicles are powered by both a battery and gasoline. An HEV (also known as a conventional hybrid) uses gasoline engines and regenerative braking to keep their smaller batteries charged. You don’t have to plug in a conventional hybrid to operate the vehicle.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, are powered in part by gasoline, but they also have larger batteries that need to be plugged in for power. The ability to charge batteries in advance helps PHEVs drive on pure electric power without burning any fuel.
3. How many electric vehicles are in the U.S.?
More than 1.3 million vehicles on the road in the U.S. were BEVs as of the end of 2020. As of 2019, just under 5.4 million HEVs had been sold in the U.S., comprising 1.6 percent of all new light-duty vehicle sales between 1999 and 2019.
4. What are some important acronyms to know about electric vehicles?
In addition to EV, BEV, HEV and PHEV (mentioned above), here are some other acronyms that can be helpful when discussing electric vehicles:
- ICE - Internal combustion engine, which is how conventional non-EV cars are powered.
- TCO - Total cost of ownership of a vehicle, which factors in depreciation, fuel and maintenance in addition to the price tag of a vehicle.
- AC vs. DC Charging - Alternating current vs. direct current, terms used to refer to types of EV charging. AC current (sometimes called level 2), charges more slowly than DC current (sometimes called level 3).
5. How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle?
Charging an EV can take as little as 30 minutes or as long as a full day. This depends entirely on the type of EV you have, the type of charging you are doing and other factors such as cargo load and weather conditions.
On AC charging, for example, a Chevy Bolt can recharge 25 miles of range per hour plugged in, but on DC charging, it can charge at 200 miles of range per hour plugged in. Typically, DC charging is available at public ev charging stations, while AC charging is what you’re more likely to get installed in your garage.
6. How much does it cost to charge an electric vehicle?
The cost to charge an electric vehicle can vary greatly, but we’ll give a hypothetical based on typical in-garage charging. If you drive about 540 miles per month and use 180 kilowatt hours (kWh) in that time frame, using the average U.S. household charging of 12 cents per kWh, you’ll pay about $21.60 a month to charge your EV.
7. How much does it cost to install a commercial EV charging station?
The cost to install a commercial EV charging station can range from $2,500 to $10,000+ depending on your property’s electrical infrastructure. An older building, for example, may require 100+ feet of wiring, while another could run just 20 feet and therefore require fewer labor hours. On average, the cost to purchase equipment and install a commercial-grade AC charging station is around $6,000.
8. How can fleet owners prepare to add EVs to their fleet?
Fleet owners should offer some education to their drivers about EVs and what will go into operating one, because there is often more to consider than expected.
“There is so much missed currently by fleet operators when thinking about going electric,” said Mary Perry, express client partnership manager at Mike Albert. “Something that fleet operators and human resource managers for companies need to think about is the overall EV ecosystem. It’s not just the vehicle, it’s the person driving it.”
Things to consider include: Adding EVs to a fleet can be more complicated than one may expect.
- Where will your drivers access charging?
- What recommendations can you give your drivers to ease range anxiety?
- What type of education can you provide within work hours for employees?
9. Can fleet owners track electricity usage in EV fleets?
They sure can. WEX, a fuel card vendor that recently introduced an EV card, works like a fuel card but instead gauges kilowatts of electricity. Through a partnership with ChargePoint, this offering boasts seamless charging at 66,000 charging stations nationwide.
10. How can fleet owners keep track of other EV metrics?
EV metrics include everything from fuel savings to return on investment (ROI) to TCO to carbon footprint. One resource is GeoTab’s Electric Vehicle Sustainability Assessment (EVSA). This is the largest dataset for real-world EV performance, offering data-driven recommendations for a smooth transition to electric.
“The EVSA allows you to upload telematics data from any telematics vendor,” said Perry. “It will analyze the driving patterns, the estimated carbon reduction and even the financial impacts.”
While creating an electric fleet can feel daunting, it is within reach — especially if you work with a fleet electrification partner to help with EV fleet management. Fleet electrification partners can assist you with acquiring necessary permits, addressing concerns from property owners and handling capital costs of charging such as acquisition, installation and upgrades.
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