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Why Letting Go of Traditional Fuel Feels Impossible (But Isn’t)

  • EV

There’s no longer any doubt about the rapid adoption of EVs among fleets — it’s a no-brainer. The case has already been made many times in many places about the lower cost of maintenance, higher utilization (meaning shorter ROI), and reduced cost of electric fuel. But until recently, demand was tempered by the supply of both vehicles and infrastructure.

Now, we’re seeing a surge in developments that will change this dynamic, and quickly. First, Ford announced it’s nearly doubling production of the electric version of its workhorse F-150 pickup truck, the number 1 selling pickup truck. Chevy introduced an electric version of its Silverado, also a popular pickup truck. And Stellantis announced that Amazon will be purchasing electric versions of its Ram ProMaster delivery van, a staple amongst Amazon’s fleet. It’s not just pickup trucks and vans, however. The Electric Power Research Institute projects there will be 62 new electric makes and models introduced this year alone.

So, it’s not surprising to see that charging stations are next in this rapid race to electric. Lots of them. With about $5 billion in dedicated funding in the recently passed Infrastructure Bill, we could see as many as 500,000 charging stations popping up across the country. Perhaps as a result, the popular traffic and navigation app Waze announced support for both searching and showing the location of charging stations along a route. Want to see where all the charging stations are today? Here’s a list.

Accessible public charging is necessary to accommodate the influx of EVs into fleets. While it’s estimated by the US Department of Energy that 80 percent of EV owners charge their vehicles at home, employees are a different story. Employees may be more likely to charge at a public station rather than at home, given the challenge of accurately determining the “cost” of home charging for reimbursement.

But guess what? In addition to public and home charging stations, there’s a new way to charge an EV. It’s known as Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) charging, and both the Ford F-150 Lightning and the Chevrolet E Silverado support it. Now, fleet managers have a new option for fleet charging either in the lot or out on routes. While it’s not quite like aerial refueling, the concept is the same: using a vehicle with a high charge to boost the charge level of another vehicle.

If you’re a fleet manager trying to figure out what this buffet of charging options means to you, you’re not alone. How to manage the logistics of charging electric fleet vehicles in the yard is only part of the equation. How to accurately account for charging in public, home, and now V2V charging on top of this — makes it even harder. Imagine if you could fuel your current vehicles by siphoning fuel from other fleet vehicles, or a stranger on the road – how would you account for that fuel transaction?

The complexity makes our heads spin because we’re still thinking the old way as if the car is “dumb” and just a vessel for liquid fuel. Today’s EVs are the opposite. They are smart and connected. And that means that they can tell the difference between a public charging port, a home/garage plug, and a few sips from the neighbor’s Chevy. That’s because the vehicle is the single point of truth.

We’re fascinated with EV expansion because we’ve built a service that magically tracks, analyzes, and presents EV charging reports for fleet managers so they can tell exactly where the vehicle was charged and at what cost. We need to stop separating a drop of fuel from a drop of electricity. Each can be tracked just as intelligently, using high caliber data insights from the vehicle itself. The engine is changing and so are our mindsets.

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