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Electric cars in the business world: A new era of corporate fleet management

4 mins read

It hasn’t been long since electric cars were ridiculed as a niche option with subpar road performance. However, numerous factors have recently pushed the development of these technologies, rapidly improving electric vehicle performance and flipping public perception on its head.

Now, this bubbling interest has grown enough to create a strong argument for businesses to transition to an electric corporate fleet. Organizations can benefit not only from an increased social credit with consumers but from lowered operating costs and possible tax incentives as well.  

The shift from traditional to electric vehicles

Turning away from traditional engines for electric vehicles is definitely challenging. Businesses that have built their expertise around diesel engine services and mechanics may not have the existing infrastructure to support the change immediately. However there are many reasons why the movement toward electric vehicles is gaining traction, including:

Environmental concerns and attracting eco-conscious consumers

Improving awareness of climate change and environmental degradation puts considerable pressure on companies to reduce their carbon footprint. Electric vehicles (EVs) produce zero tailpipe emissions, significantly contributing to that goal.

Companies that embrace electric vehicles can position themselves as responsible, caring companies and better connect with like-minded customers. There’s also considerable evidence that employees are more actively invested when working for an environmentally friendly organization.

There are some arguments that electricity generation for EVs is just as harmful to the environment as fossil fuel emissions. While that could be argued today, the existence of solar, wind, and hydroelectric power sources means that EVs will only grow more carbon-positive over time.

Reduced long-term operating costs

If the only benefit was a slightly better reputation, it’s unlikely that many corporations would adopt EVs. Although EVs may come with a higher upfront cost, they have lower maintenance costs due to using fewer total parts and the lower price of electricity compared to gasoline.

Additionally, there are various government tax incentives and rebates to encourage buying EVs and their accompanying infrastructure. These incentives apply to individuals and businesses and dramatically reduce the buy-in cost.

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Regulatory compliance

Governments are pushing progressively stricter emissions regulations. The primary goal is limiting carbon dioxide emissions by improving fuel efficiency and supporting electric vehicle research.

Corporate fleets, in particular, are under a timeline from the US Department of Energy to convert a percentage of their fleet to EVs. The first benchmark is set for 2025 and requires that at least 40 percent of the “light duty” vehicles be electric.

Operational challenges and solutions

The massive public support and funding for EVs means the industry constantly improves. A problem you see today may not exist tomorrow, and slowly transitioning your fleet now will prepare you to reap the benefits of those solutions.

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Some challenges you could face when converting your fleet include:

Building a charging infrastructure

There’s been considerable progress in setting up a nationwide electric charging infrastructure in the US, but it’s certainly not perfect. Many geographical and power-based factors could negatively influence your fleet’s performance.

  • Charger Locations: Determining where to place charging stations is a big problem. Strategic allocation along common routes requires a process that comes with site assessments, regulatory requirements, and scalability considerations.
  • Charging Speed: It takes longer to charge up an EV than it takes to fill a tank with gasoline. Private EV owners may have the time to sit in their cars and wait, but businesses must limit their downtime. There isn’t a great fix for this problem in emergencies, but proper planning and range calculations can minimize issues.

The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program aims to electrify over 75,000 highway miles across all 50 states. This goal was set for just the first two years of NEVI’s tenure and will increase over time, so businesses aren’t tackling the issue of electric infrastructure alone.

Fleet maintenance and management

Supporting an EV fleet is different from traditional combustion engine vehicles. Businesses using personal mechanics will need to re-educate their existing workforce or hire additional professionals more familiar with EVs.

This is particularly true because most EVs are equipped with an internal computer. This inclusion means that software engineers are more in demand than engine experts. Ford recognized this shift early and started hiring software engineers in massive numbers in 2018.

The investment cost of hiring multi-skilled professionals is offset by the generally lower maintenance costs of EVs. There are considerably fewer parts of an EV that require regular maintenance than in a conventional gasoline engine.

EV maintenance doesn’t involve oil changes, fuel filters, alternators, oxygen sensors, and the other million parts of a gasoline engine your mechanics say are ‘dangerously worn out.’

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Technological advancements and future trends

Electric vehicles get better by the day, and businesses should stay informed about these advancements. Obviously, you wouldn’t switch out your entire fleet because of a minor change, but updating your infrastructure over time could be beneficial.

Solid-state batteries

Solid-state batteries are an exciting development looking to replace current lithium-ion versions. They offer heightened energy storage, faster charging, and reduced risk of overheating, leakage, and combustion.

Increased range

Since they entered development, one of the main focuses of EVs has been to match the driving range of combustion vehicles. This was a big concern for fleet managers as being able to move between locations in an uninterrupted trip was paramount. Within this decade, businesses can expect EVs to reach an industry standard of 300 miles per charge.

Battery recycling

Improvements to the environmental efficiency of EVs are always welcome as they loan more social credit to the businesses using them. The future will see a more significant focus on recycling and reusing batteries once they hit the end of their lifetime. Some considerations involve repurposing them as energy storage solutions for off-the-grid homes.

The business world could benefit from EV cars

Integrating EVs in fleet management isn’t simply a popular trend that businesses are trying to cash in on. There are financial and operational benefits to transitioning to the technology today, and there are many active support factors from the government to ease that change.

Adopting EVs is a critical component in the journey towards more environmentally conscious transportation solutions. It includes corporate leased vehicles, dockless vehicle services (scooters, electric personal vehicles, etc.), and public transportation.

Embracing electric vehicles allows companies to reduce their carbon footprint, save on maintenance, and entice associations with consumers and employee talent. This is one path forward to getting the most out of fleet management.

Patrick Peterson

Patrick Peterson is a content manager at GoodCar. Born and raised in the automotive world, he’s an enthusiastic expert who writes exquisite content pieces about everything regarding cars and bikes.

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