Today the rise of electric vehicles is gaining some serious traction and continuously dominating automotive headlines worldwide. The transition to EVs (Electric vehicles) offers a more eco-friendly alternative while optimizing a business’s fleet productivity. With low maintenance and low costs of electricity, it’s no wonder the appeal for zero-emission commercial electric vehicles continues to grow. So what are some pros and cons of electrifying your fleet?
Company image and sustainability.
With how harmful fossil fuels are to the environment, switching to electric vehicles can show how committed a company is to preserving our planet. Not only is investing in an entirely electric fleet an excellent selling point to potential customers, but potential local and national awards can further enhance your company’s prestige. Your company’s embrace of zero emissions, especially for your first vehicle, will grab many headlines. This is primarily due to consumer expectations that now strongly emphasize social matters. It’s essential now more than ever to define your company’s commitments and share in the social responsibility of reducing your carbon footprint by transitioning to EVs.
With the threat of climate change looming, it has served as a call for an intervention in the automotive industry. Both local and state governments have begun incentivizing the transition to eclectic vehicles. Currently, there is a $7,500 tax incentive eligible per EV. This can be very helpful for those looking to switch their fleet looking to the future. It is predicted in many states like California, excluding medium to heavy-duty vehicles for things such as construction, by 2045, vehicles will be required to be zero-emission. By transitioning now, your fleet’s sustainability can prove to be cost-effective.
The threat of climate change has served as a call for intervention, especially within the automotive industry. As a result, local and federal governments are beginning to incentivize the adoption of electric vehicles, such as the federal income tax incentive of $7,500 per eligible EV.
Another example includes the state of California’s announcement to ban the sale of new gas cars by 2035, excluding medium- and heavy-duty vehicles such as trucks and construction equipment, which will need to be zero-emission by 2045.
Charging and maintenance
Since EVs are battery-operated, they will need to be recharged at various intervals and speeds, dependent upon the charger. The majority of agencies and companies have a 240 Volt Level 2 charger; on average, this can recharge a battery from 50% to 80% in a couple of hours; this is referred to as an (AC) or Alternating current charger. A direct current (DC) charge can take as little as 20 minutes to charge a car from 50% to 80%. The maintenance that also goes into EVs is also much less significant. EVs have fewer moving parts and much less complicated operating systems, making them easier to learn and fix. This also means the services performed on these vehicles will be cheaper as they are less labor-intensive.
There is also a difference when it comes to the mileage vs. operating time of an EV. The EV mileage from one charge to drive the motor, using its lights, air conditioning, or heat, utilizes much less power than a regular gas vehicle. Another example of how power-saving an EV can be is the use of its regenerative braking. Regenerative braking is when the vehicle’s kinetic energy is stored in the battery during deceleration to further power the motor. In doing so, there is less wear and tear on the brakes, resulting in the longevity of the brakes.
With the regenerative braking system, brakes have become much less noisy and have lasted larger vehicles like garbage trucks much longer. In addition, regenerative braking systems help these larger trucks come to a more gradual stop and prevent the noisy squeal of breaks.
Along with this, EV engines have a gentle hum when running a garbage truck, rather than the loud hydraulics you usually hear when they are dumping your cans. EVs are not only quieting down waste trucks but taxis as well. Many of these commercial fleets of cabs have reported increased employee retention and performance. These cab drivers enjoy smoother, exhaust-free, and quieter rides, improving both the driver’s and riders’ moods.
While many skeptics of EVs believe that a battery cannot harness the same power as a gas or diesel engine, the contrary is true. While with a gas or diesel engine, one must wait until an optimum RPM is attained for the powertrain to hit its max torque. With an EV powertrain system, there is no wait, and max torque can be achieved when needed.
When electric vehicles were first introduced to the automobile industry, the cost of ownership was extremely high. Today EVs have reduced their costs but not their value thanks to battery cost reduction. While fuel has been one of the highest operating costs for commercial fleets, by switching to EVs and recharging instead of refueling, fleet owners have drastically reduced their ‘fuel’ costs. This shows that operating an EV fleet is cheaper to run and maintain than any gas or diesel-powered vehicle.
Another cost efficiency that EVs offer is maintenance. The maintenance that goes into owning an EV is significantly less than that of a gas or diesel-powered vehicle. This is due primarily to the fact that EVs require fewer parts to fix should they need it and have fewer moving parts. With the simplicity of an EV engine, it requires less training and time for a mechanic, also costing you less in the end.
One of the main reasons people are switching to EVs is for the cost efficiency at ‘refuel.’ It costs significantly less to charge an EV with electricity than to run a gas or diesel-powered engine. While the initial cost of purchasing an EV is higher, overtime is outweighed by the cost of recharging instead of having to refuel.
While owning an electric vehicle has many advantages, some disadvantages are worth considering. Many of these disadvantages will be fixed in the coming years, but let’s look at some of the disadvantages of an EV.
Range and towing capabilities
One of the biggest downfalls to current electric vehicles is that they cannot travel long distances off one battery charge. This is a big disadvantage to fleet managers looking to fulfill long-haul deliveries. There is hope for the future that this disadvantage will be solved. Longer-range electric vehicles are being manufactured to travel between 250 and 300 miles on a fully charged battery. The Newly released Tesla Semi can reach up to 500 miles on a single charge. The Tesla Semi successfully completed a 500-mile delivery from Fremont to San Diego on a single charge. There is optimism that the battery capacity in coming years will increase and give EVs the range they need.
Another disadvantage to long-distance EV fleets is the lack of charging stations. Many of these fleets must travel through remote areas to reach their destinations, and there are currently few to no charging stations. Some countries hope to solve this issue in the near future by placing more public EV charging stations throughout the main roads in rural areas.
The power grid is a great concern in adding these charging stations to accommodate the growing number of EVs on the road. Placing new charging stations poses a new challenge to the power lines. The lines must be able to facilitate the charging needs of these stations in rural or business buildings. More power may be necessary to be brought off the lines to accommodate charging needs; however, this may strain some power grids. The government has started taking steps to begin funding the public grid connections to have high-powered electric chargers, but this may not make an impactful difference until the end of 2023. This is causing many fleet managers to hold off on transitioning to an all-EV fleet, specifically for any company doing long-distance driving.
One of the last hindering factors to an EV is its hauling capacity. Due to the weight of these large lithium-ion batteries, many of these EVs cannot match the hauling capabilities of their gas and diesel counterparts. Like all other EV issues, EV manufacturers are looking to create a solution to EV towing capabilities.
One of the downsides to an EV is the initial upfront cost. The initial purchasing price of an EV is much higher than that of its gas and diesel counterparts. The cost of EVs also varies based on the size of the battery in the vehicle as well as the cost of an AC or DC charger which is sold separately. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, non-residential DC fast chargers range from $10,000 to $40,000. Ultimately, the EV will require much less maintenance and reduce your refueling expenses in the long run.
Another cost that may incur to future fleet owners is the lack of availability of used cargo vans or commercial work trucks. While new EV models are becoming available on the market, leading to a new inventory of used first-generation models, they do not have many options for larger transit vehicles. The used EV market will eventually expand and develop into the cargo van and commercial work truck areas; however, this will take a couple of years to develop having these types of EVs on the road.
Just like smaller electronic devices, a major pitfall with electric vehicles is that their batteries can be damaged if overcharged too often. Consistently overcharging a battery over time causes the battery to hold less charge. This is why EV manufacturers recommend charging vehicles only to 80% for daily use and only 100% if you intend to use the full battery capacity in a trip. Not following these guidelines will cause the battery’s life to deteriorate quicker, costing you more to replace the battery.
Understand battery fires.
Although it is rare, it is not unheard of for an EV to have a lithium-ion battery fire. These fires are notoriously dangerous for many reasons. One of the reasons is that when they burn, they match the intensity of a burn from that of a blow torch and are difficult to extinguish. Another reason lithium-ion battery fires are so dangerous is that they have been known to re-ignite even after being extinguished. Tesla recommends that 3,000 gallons of water be used to keep an extinguished battery cool, and an average tanker truck can only hold 500 gallons. This can prove fatal in many cases.
Be aware of battery sourcing.
Many people, when buying EVs, may be unaware of where their battery is coming from. Yes, going green by buying an EV is great for the environment, but is it worth it once you find out you may be using batteries obtained through controversial sources. Most of the lithium-ion batteries we use in our devices and EVs contain cobalt, which is necessary to maintain the stability of the chemical mixture. This cobalt used in battery construction comes from African mines, most of which employ child labor. This powdery blue substance is costly, and companies hope to use magnese and iron to replace it or eliminate cobalt in battery production in the coming years.
While many fleet managers are familiar with lead-acid recycling batteries, nearly all of which can be recycled, the same can not be said for lithium-ion batteries. The world’s largest EV manufacturer, BYD, has stated that recycling these batteries is inefficient. With the cost of cobalt rising, the profitability of recycling these batteries could be great. While cobalt is being replaced with cheaper and more favorable elements, there is still a toxic sludge that renders from recycling these batteries. Currently, this toxic byproduct is the responsibility of the companies. While the Government has pushed incentives for companies to take on entirely EV fleets, how long will that last before companies are hit with the disposal and recycling fees like they are with lead-acid disposal fees?
One thing many EV owners do not anticipate is an unexpected power outage. Power outages can be a big concern for any EV owner; unfortunately, there are no easy answers to this dilemma. While generators can supply backup power, they can be costly and not efficient enough for a fleet needing DC fast charging. For Generators to sustain a fleet requiring DC fast charging to maintain standard workflow, the generator would have to be of substantial size and may come at a very steep price. Currently, owning a generator capable of meeting the demand of 115kW costs approximately $30,000.
To recap, here is a list of questions you should ask yourself before transitioning your fleet to EVs to ensure a smooth transition.
- Is there a tax incentive or credit that my fleet can benefit from?
- Are there EVs available to meet my fleet’s requirements?
- Is there a place for my employees to charge their vehicles? Can I install on-site charging?
- Is it feasible for my fleet to adapt to EVs?
- Are there EV-trained technicians in my service network?
- Will there be opportunities for fleet remarketing?
At Reliable Couriers, we look forward to what the future holds with EVs. Our fleet of vehicles will become more diverse than ever before as we begin our transition to an Electric fleet. We want to ensure our fleet is as cost-efficient as possible so we can pass our savings on to you. During our transition, we will keep our same promises of fast same day delivery; no matter what package type or destination, you can rely on us 24/7.