Fleet managers, fleet trade associations, and fleet vendors will be drawn together as they’ve never been in the past. The unifying topic? electric vehicles (EV). I just returned from a successful NAFA fleet conference in Columbus, Ohio. Every day had a session dedicated to EVs. More than 125 people attended just one of the EV sessions I was in. Even off-topic conference sessions ended up gravitating toward the topic of EVs during the Q&A portion of the sessions. People are compassionate, excited, and concerned about EVs for sure!
Mandates for EVs are here, and more are coming.
Last week, California proposed rules that would require 35% of vehicles to be zero-emissions starting in 2026. That’s less than 43 months away. So, the answer is zero-emissions vehicles and specifically EVs. But so many questions remain unanswered. How will we answer even basic questions when mandates are in place in just a few years? Consider:
- Where will we buy electric vehicles, and at what cost? Today, you can’t even buy vehicles reliably as they are in short supply.
- Who will train our technicians? Even the basic tasks such as putting an EV on a lift can have catastrophic impacts on a vehicle’s battery if they are not lifted correctly. At the conference, it was suggested that the most viable option for fixing vehicles these days is to take them back to the dealer. That obviously has financial and logistical considerations.
- How will we charge the vehicles before the infrastructure is in place at our depots and across the regions we serve?
- How will we charge vehicles of sales teams and staff that have to take home vehicles? Will we install level 1 chargers? Level 2? How will we reimburse employees for at-home charging? How will we enforce it?
- What standards will we have to lock down the security on networked charging stations?
- Will we have to retrofit our garages for suppressing fires in EV vehicles?
- When will municipalities train firefighters on vehicle and building structure fires involving EVs? According to Robert Rielage’s article on the topic of lithium-ion batteries, “their use in electric cars and other vehicles may currently be of the most concern to the fire service.”
- How will depreciation models change as batteries play a more significant role in the residual value?
- How will vendors support fleet management software changes and other initiatives to best identify segments of the fleet that can, and cannot, be supported by EVs?
- Will motor pool management systems need to account for EV State-of-Charge (SOC) in new ways?
- Will there be a standard for vendors to integrate with in order to collect SOC data from EV charging stations?
The list of questions goes on and on. The answers can’t come from just one segment of the fleet industry. Each of us must proactively take action regardless of how far in the future EVs are for us. We must be comprehensive and consistent in messaging to regulators. And most importantly, we must share information. Trade associations will play a key role in pulling us together. Individually, fleet managers must share their successes and failures. Vendors will need all the input they need to help everyone succeed.
We’re all in this together. Let’s succeed!