Electric Vehicles Analysis: The Future of Commercial Fleets

Dennis JaconiApril 5, 2021

This past month we surveyed the most influential utility companies in the country to get a better understanding of just how these large fleet organizations plan on transitioning from gas to electric vehicles. Here’s what we learned…

The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) in commercial fleets is promising, inevitable and yet full of so many unknowns. Though we can confidently say that EVs are the future of fleet, there are several questions to be answered before the entire industry can get on board.

How will we keep vehicles charged? How will fleets measure return on investment on EVs? How do electric vehicles compare to their fuel counterparts when it comes to the distance they can travel for jobs or tow capacity? 

These are a few of many initial questions that companies are working to figure out in order to financially justify such a big change and investment within their fleets. In addition to questions regarding EV performance overall, fleets are also asking which trucks should they electrify first? And which OEMs should they be working with?

Working with Utilimarc customer Consumers Energy we ran a survey throughout March targeting the top utility companies in the country to find some answers to these questions.

How will EV performance be measured?

When asked which key performance indicators would be used to measure EV performance, responses were nearly tied between “Reduction of CO2 Emissions” and “Fuel Savings.” These responses confirm that commercial fleets across the board are looking for a solution that is both eco- and budget-friendly. With transportation being the largest contributor of greenhouse gases in the US (about 28 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency), a transition from fuel to energy vehicles across commercial fleets could create substantial change and be a win-win situation for companies looking to cut fuel costs.

Additionally, a 52 percent majority of survey responses pointed to overall maintenance cost reduction and cost-per-mile as key performance indicators. Which could become a significant and common measuring stick for the ROI of going electric. Looking at Utilimarc’s 2020 benchmark data, average Maintenance Cost per Mile for Ford F-150 equivalent trucks was $0.21 or $2,453 per unit.

EV fleet data metrics

The impact of electric vehicles today vs. the impact of electric vehicles tomorrow

The average vehicle size of fleets surveyed was 2,300, with 33 percent of participating fleets having over 4,000 vehicles. While the general response amongst participants showed an average of 3 percent of their fleets being EV, 53 percent of those surveyed anticipate a slight jump of 1 to 10 percent within the next 3 years. Another 31 percent of companies responded expecting 10 to 25 percent total EV, showing that a lot of thought is being given to the potential of EV performance and the immediate benefits it could bring to fleets nationwide.

ev fleet percentages

Among these first plans to electrify fleets, a nearly unanimous vote confirmed that class 1 and 2 vehicles would be most companies’ priorities in where to electrify first. Which makes sense – given the leading manufacturers of commercial EVs are focused on light-body pickup trucks. 

Vehicle classes going electric

Practical questions worth asking

With a substantial 93 percent vote, Ford was the most sought after manufacturer for electric vehicles according to our survey results. Not too far behind was General Motors. However, Freightliner, Lordstown and Tesla did not have as much popularity among the commercial fleets surveyed. Ford is the largest manufacturer for fleet today and their fully-electric F-150, which is anticipated to be released in late 2021/early 2022, is likely the reason why they are currently leading the charge. 

Other write-in responses included Rivian, Kensworth, Kia, Honda, CASE, Posi and Altec.

ford and lordstown electric trucks

Another compelling takeaway from the survey regarded the topic of how fleets will manage the massive task of charging their new electric assets once they’ve been implemented into their fleet. It’s an important base to cover when considering a move away from fuel. 

ev charging stations

Questions are surfacing surrounding how companies intend to maintain vehicle charge and the potential impact this could have on grid capacity. While 100 percent of respondents plan to charge at least some amount of vehicles at company owned stations, nearly 60 percent also plan on providing employees with at-home charging stations for even greater convenience.

So what’s the end result?

In conclusion, electric vehicle implementation is a strategic move that could mean different things for each company. As we have seen, each fleet has very different plans and reasons for implementing EVs. While one survey respondent anticipates their company having 50 percent of their fleet being electric in the next 3 years, another respondent anticipates only 2 to 3 total EV. Likewise, while some fleets may be focused on cutting CO2 emissions, it isn’t uncommon for others to see a greater opportunity in cutting maintenance costs and spending less on fuel.

As an authority in data analysis for enterprise level fleets, EV implementation effectiveness, ROI, carbon emissions reduction and performance measurement are an incredible opportunity for our organization and clients. We are looking forward to exploring the subject of electric vehicle performance even further, not only through research and hearing our clients’ thoughts, but soon with first hand experience and data.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Utilimarc can help you make the most of your electric vehicle data, schedule a live demo with our analytics team.

Dennis Jaconi

VP of Marketing and Sales

Dennis Jaconi is the VP of marketing and sales at Utilimarc. He has over 10 years of experience working within the commercial fleet industries and leads a dynamic team of digital content and customer success managers. See more from Dennis

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