4 Different Fleets That Have Used Electric Vehicles Effectively

 In Fleet Management

If you are considering plug-in electric vehicles for your fleet, you may have read how EVs can reduce operating costs compared to gas-powered vehicles – beginning with potential savings on fuel and maintenance. Looking at a vehicle’s full life in a fleet, these total cost of ownership savings make a big difference.

However, you may have had concerns about fulfilling specific organizational needs, especially when long-distance travel is involved. Doing the due diligence is an essential part of the process when electrifying a fleet.

Every fleet owner will want to see test cases showing companies having success with the technology in day-to-day operations. To that end, we offer examples of fleets that have used first-generation EVs to great effect.

1) City Sanitation Departments

Chevrolet Volt New York City Sanitation vehicleMunicipal sanitation inspectors often make the rounds in densely populated urban environments at all hours of the day, and follow up on the work that high-emissions diesel trucks do hauling waste to local dumps. The last thing a city needs from its sanitation department needs is more emissions or more noise from internal combustion engines.

Working on this premise, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched the first wave of plug-in vehicles in NYC’s municipal fleet in 2011. Among the group were Chevrolet Volts and Nissan Leafs used by the sanitation department. These vehicles travel noiselessly and, when the Volt is in electric-drive mode, without any fumes coming from the tailpipe.

The program has worked and, buoyed by positive feedback and data on the potential for greater emissions reductions, New York recently expanded its EV fleet in 2015 with more vehicles earmarked for Sanitation. In the City That Never Sleeps, residents are sure to appreciate the silent operation outside their windows in the early morning hours.

2) Utility Fleets

PG&E electric cherry pickerMany utility providers have been great advocates for increased electric car adoption by offering reduced rates for consumers plugging in EVs during off-peak hours. Meanwhile, we have seen Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and other utilities electrifying their own fleets for work in the community.

California residents may have already seen the PG&E hybrid-electric cherry pickers in operation in the community. These trucks have a number of remarkable features that a utility can use. In addition to lowering emissions during operation, the new PG&E bucket trucks:

  • Operate without idling
  • Utilize solar panels on the roof
  • Return power to the grid

While electric car skeptics knock the concept of “zero emissions” for its assumptions about the local power grid, any vehicle operating on solar power has an airtight case for clean operation. Utility providers can use this feature and the ability to operate silently as a way of reducing pollution in the community. When the power is out and stress levels run high, every bit helps. Furthermore, a utility provider will never have trouble installing or maintaining charging stations.

3) Police Departments

LAPD BMW i3In June 2016, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) announced it was leasing 100 BMW i3 electric cars. Mayor Eric Garcetti has greatly expanded the number of plug-in vehicles used by city employees, and data shows EVs can easily handle the use cycle of many LAPD vehicles.

What would a cop do with an electric car? You might not see one in hot pursuit of a certain white Ford Bronco on the 405, but you will see them in other capacities, including:

  • Community outreach, including parade details
  • Detective work, include neighborhood canvassing
  • Traffic work, including parking violations
  • Transportation of officers on duty

With over 80 miles of range in the battery and up to 150 miles of range in the i3 with range extender (REX), there are plenty of use-cases for police officers operating on pure electric power. Just think how a suspect listening for approaching vehicles would have a hard time hearing an LAPD electric car silently arriving on the scene.

4) Delivery Trucks

UPS electric delivery truckIt doesn’t take deep thinking to see how city delivery trucks would benefit from electrification. The stop-and-go traffic drivers encounter on the typical route is made for the regenerative braking systems EVs offer, and the superior fuel economy in the city means fleets get close to the actual range quoted by manufacturers.

UPS is one of the companies with EVs and hybrids already on the road. In September 2015, UPS purchased 125 electrified models to put into service on delivery routes. Compared to gas-powered trucks, the company said it would get four times better fuel economy with the electric models. In fact, these new trucks would even deliver 10-15% better economy than hybrids.

Duane Reade, a New York drug store chain owned by Walgreens, has about 25% of its straight truck fleet already running on electric power, the company said. Despite the drop in fuel prices in recent years, the company has pushed forward with its EV program. According to a Walgreens spokesman, the silent operation is a crucial part of the trucks’ appeal.

The Duane Reade trucks are a part of New York City’s Off Hours Delivery Initiative in place to reduce congestion by day and keep the streets quiet by night. Participants have seen parking tickets virtually eliminated and driver stress levels plummet since joining.

The Duane Reade trucks are not shy about it, either. They have writing on their roofs saying, “Hey, relax, I’m not the one making noise down here,” so city residents looking down from their apartments will see it.

What the Fleets Have in Common

There are some clear connections between the fleets mentioned above. A winning formula includes:

  • Access to charging infrastructure
  • An emphasis on community/customer relations
  • Normal trips ranging from 25 miles or less
  • The need to reduce emissions
  • Mandates to lower operating costs
  • Local and/or federal purchase incentives

If any or all of the above sound like reasons for your organization to consider electrifying your fleet, it’s a great time to get started. Purchase incentives are still widely available in North America and around the globe. Besides, the soon-to-emerge next generation of electric vehicles will offer fleet owners even more choices.

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