Does an Electric Fleet Make Sense for your Business?

Electric Semi Truck

Electric vehicle technology has left the niche market far behind and is now a feature of everything from true sports cars to company SUV’s, city buses, and more.  Costs have also come down.  This previously pricey market segment is now in the same range as equivalent gasoline vehicles.  As a result, big name companies – including Amazon, DHL, FedEx, and even Waste Management – are converting to electric vehicle (EV) fleets.

This new generation of vehicles includes delivery and work vehicles as well, and if you operate a commercial fleet they can potentially save you money and help you help the planet. However, the decision to adopt EV’s (like every major business decision) is one that requires forethought and attention to operational details. Let’s review the major questions to consider. 

Are Your Vehicles Used in a Way That Allows Easy Charging?

The ideal use pattern for a commercial EV is to operate in a local area and return to its home base at least once per day for charging period. In many fleets, gas vehicles already follow this pattern, leaving the base for work throughout the day and returning to park overnight. If your fleet is parked overnight or has any long daily downtime period, you can install chargers at your facility and keep your EV’s powered up.

Will Available Charging Time Cover the Miles Driven?

The answer to this question is a qualified “Yes.” EV’s can be charged with a simple wall socket, 120-volt charger (Level 1), a wall mounted 240-volt AC charger (Level 2), or gas pump style DC fast chargers, sometimes termed Level 3. Depending on which is used with your vehicle, more or less charge can be delivered:

  • Level 1: 3 and 5 miles per charging hour, i.e. at least 24 miles over 8 hours
  • Level 2: 25 to 60 miles per charging hour, i.e. at least 200 miles over 8 hours
  • Level 3: 250+/- miles per charging hour

What if Your Use Pattern Doesn’t Fit?

If your fleet doesn’t have enough daily downtime or travels long one-way distances, you may still have options for a greener fleet.

First, using EV’s that can use a Level 3 charger will shrink your charging time, allowing vehicles to top off during the day without disrupting work. This also allows them to more easily charge away from home base.

Second, hybrids don’t need as much charging time, since they are part electric and part gas, but still reduce gas use and emissions. Using plug-in hybrids will give you maximum flexibility while achieving an environmental benefit.

Is Stop-and-Go Traffic Common for Your Fleet?

Sitting in traffic is terrible for gas vehicles. It wastes fuel and puts extra “miles” on the engine and brakes that don’t show up on the odometer. But stop-and-go traffic is actually a benefit for electric vehicles because regenerative braking can add charge to the vehicle as it drives. This and savings on maintenance and fuel can help your bottom line.

Can Your Facility and Finances Support Charging?

Again, the answer is “yes” for most businesses. Level 1 chargers are not recommended for commercial use, while Level 2 chargers will need a 240-volt supply and are typically easy to install, using a certified electrician for installation. Level 3 chargers can be installed in existing parking areas, or you can charge your vehicles at level 3 facilities away from your base, just as you would fill up at a gas station.

Ready for a Partner?

Could you use some advice on the what, why, and how of fleet conversion and charging stations? Thayer Energy Solutions has experts on hand who are ready to help. Get in touch today at 815-282-1112, and together we’ll find the best options for your situation.