Here’s why planning for an Electric Vehicle-Based Future is Key…And Smart Policy

Gretchen ReeseAugust 12, 2021

When you think about it – it’s not just time that’s been moving quickly these days – but technology and driving innovation too. If we were to look at electric vehicles again – yes again, we all know that I love exploring all facets of the term “sustainability” on this show, the timeframe for electric vehicle technology, infrastructure and innovation has shortened dramatically. It went from a span of 5-10 years being the average to see any major change in innovation, to 1-2 years being the standard. 

Crazy to think, right?

To help me speak more to this topic, I’ve brought in Charlotte Argue, another friend of mine from GEOTAB, where she works as a senior electrification manager and knows pretty much all there is to know on all things EV.

She’s speaking to why planning for an electric vehicle based future isn’t simply key – it’s smart policy.

Here’s why planning for an Electric Vehicle-Based Future is Key…And Smart Policy | Fleet FYIs Podcast, Season 2 Episode 19

Gretchen Reese (00:06):

Hey there. Welcome to Fleet FYIs, the weekly podcast by Utilimarc, that reveals how you can make the most of your data for smarter fleet management. My name is Gretchen and every week you’ll hear from me and some of the industry’s finest in candid conversations that will shed some light on that only two decades worth of data insights, but some of the industry’s hottest talking points and key metric analysis with the aim to help you better understand your fleet from every angle. But before we begin, if this is the first time you’ve heard our show, thanks for stopping by.

Gretchen Reese (00:38):

I’m so glad you decided to come along for the ride with us, but I’ve got a quick favor to ask you, once you finish today’s episode, if you could take a few minutes to leave us a review on your favorite podcasting platform, we would really appreciate it. Give us a rating, five stars I hope or tell us what you liked or leave us a comment or a question about what you’ve heard in today’s episode. But if we haven’t yet covered a topic that you’re interested in hearing more about, let us know, we would be happy to go over it in detail in a later episode, if that sounds good to you, let’s get back to the show.

Gretchen Reese (01:09):

Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of the Fleet FYIs’ podcast. I’m so glad that you could all join me for another week. We are always so happy to have you tuning in for another chat about what makes the fleet industry tick. Time seems to be moving so quickly these- these days. And I’m not sure if it’s just me when I say that and I kind of hope that it’s the same for all of you too, just so that I don’t feel like it’s just me in this case, but you know, just yesterday I felt like I blinked and August had disappeared right from under my nose. Part of this, I think was the realization that I’d just seen my first red maple leaf float to the ground, which I don’t know about you but to me, August 12th seems a little bit too early for that. Granted I saw it a couple of days ago so it was even before then, but also the fact that yesterday feels like the warm weather of the summer season just began.

Gretchen Reese (02:11):

I mean, when you think about it, it’s not just time actually that’s been moving quickly these days. I had a conversation with a friend of mine in the industry that when we were talking about technology and driving innovation, we’re finding that these things are moving almost as fast. I mean, granted not as time, as time blending together but you get the point. If we were to look at electric vehicles again, because yes, again, we all know that I love exploring all facets of the term sustainability on this show, the timeframe of electric vehicle technology infrastructure and innovation has shortened dramatically.

Gretchen Reese (02:44):

It went from a span of five to 10 years being the average to see any major change in innovation to one to two years being the standard. That’s crazy to think about, right? To help me speak more into this topic. I’ve brought in Charlotte Argue another friend of mine from Geotab, where she works as a senior electrification manager and knows pretty much all there is to know about all things EV. And she’s speaking to why planning for an electric vehicle based future isn’t simply key, it’s smart policy, let’s dig in. So today we have with us Charlotte Argue a senior manager of fleet electrification at Geotab. Hi, Charlotte, how are you?

Charlotte Argue (03:31):

Hi, I’m doing great. Thanks for having me.

Gretchen Reese (03:34):

So let’s get acquainted to start out with, I mean, you know, we’ve spoken before you and I but can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and what you do at Geotab?

Charlotte Argue (03:43):

Yeah, absolutely. So I got involved in electric vehicles fairly early, around 2009. Um, and at the time I was working at a nonprofit in Vancouver, in Canada, um, helping to deliver clean transportation and fleet programs. And it was just about the time when some of those early auto makers like Mitsubishi and Nissan were talking about releasing their first production electric cars. Um, and that kinda got me hooked in so to speak. So I spent the next decade mainly focused on supporting EV adoption for both consumers and for fleets.

Charlotte Argue (04:16):

Um, and then I joined the EV team at Geotab a couple years ago. And part of my role, as I would say, as a EV thought leader is taking telematics insight that we have to really shed light on unanswered questions around fleet electrification. So things like how many fleet vehicles could go electric today without changing the route or their duty cycle, um, how quickly are EV batteries degrading, how does temperature impact their range? So I work a lot with our data team and then also our communications team, just to be able to share some of those insights publicly. And then I’m also involved in a number of global initiatives collaborating with others, working in the EV space.

Gretchen Reese (04:59):

Sure. And let’s get the big question outta the way first, because I’m sure everyone’s dying to know, but do you think electric vehicles are the future?

Charlotte Argue (05:05):

(laughs), Are the future? Uh, I would say yes. Are they the only vehicle technology of the future? That’s highly unlikely. I do think that they’ll be the dominant fuel type, at least for the foreseeable future. Um, I really do think there’s a momentum behind EVs where there’s really no turning back at this point for a number of reasons, and that will include, you know, government policy and- and the current investments out there. But if you simplify it down, if there’s a really simple reason why I also think that they’re gonna do well is- is just that they’re a better technology overall than combustion engine. So, um, yeah, batteries and charging they’ll have to continue to evolve and improve, but the actual use of an electric motor to propel a vehicle makes a lot of sense.

Gretchen Reese (05:52):

Mm-hmm (affirmative), what do you think would be its biggest competition then if we’re talking about internal, uh, combustion engines are like a different alternative fuel source?

Charlotte Argue (06:00):

Well, all fuel sources are gonna have to move towards decarbonizing. Um, and that’s just, you know, the reality that we have with climate change and with, you know, policies and, um, trying to meet cert- certain emissions targets. So I think battery electric and then hydrogen electric and certain applications, um, will likely be used. Uh, there’s also other fuel types, like renewable biodiesel where there’ll probably be, um, some areas where that makes sense. So it could be a combination, but yeah, the fossil fuel based, um, yeah typical gas known biodiesel, gas and- and diesel will likely be phased out.

Gretchen Reese (06:43):

Interesting. Yeah, I was, I was looking at, into, um, alternative fuel the other day and just for a bit of context, I love a good rabbit hole when I can find a bunch of information on a topic and e-Fuel was one of the biggest, um, pieces that I looked into just for the ability to potentially decarbonize the internal combustion engine. And I thought it was fascinating and they were saying that, you know, comparing to EVs, right? You know, you’re looking at, um, less efficiency, but could potentially be a way to, and we’re gonna get very cheesy here, ‘save the internal combustion engine for all of the gearheads that are listening to the podcast and all of that sort of thing.’ I don’t know, so I think it’ll be interesting, you know, to- to monitor what’s coming out. Um, and then how it’s actually adopted. And then if the efficiency is the same, because I’ve heard from a lot of people, you know, that the efficiency of EVs and the efficiency just of the battery itself is gonna be superb. Do you think?

Charlotte Argue (07:38):

Yeah. I mean, that’s, what are they trying to save with, uh, (laugh), the combustion engine, um, you know, there’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of things to break down and a lot of efficiency loss with- with heat and that. So, um, yeah, that, I think that’s a big part of the reason why electric motors and EV technology is just, has such, um, an in, a compelling argument in this space.

Gretchen Reese (08:03):

Absolutely. So if we look at this, then Charlotte, from a global perspective, how does the EV market look today compared to say, you know, even five, 10 years ago, right? That doesn’t seem like a massive timeframe, but in terms of technology and innovation, that’s, you know, a ton of time to look at the changes in a market like EV.

Charlotte Argue (08:23):

Oh my goodness, yeah, it’s almost unrecognizable. Um, so in 2020 globally, we hit over 10 million EVs on the road. And five years ago, we were, I believe we were still under 2 million. So there’s been a pretty, um, significant jump in just the overall stock. Um, 10 million is still only about 1% of our total global stock. So that might not feel like a lot, but the trajectory is- is certainly steep. Um, yeah, I mean, electric vehicles, it’s one of those disruptive technologies that you kinda don’t realize how quickly things change until they have, um, you know, everything has changed what hasn’t changed. So the vehicles on the market, you know, you used to have a choice of less than half a dozen, very limited options. Uh, now essentially every major automaker has multiple EV models. Um, there’s dozens of new bottles coming out every year.

Charlotte Argue (09:17):

So, uh, yeah, the consumer choice for- for both private consumers, but also fleets is- is completely different. Um, and we’re on the cusp of a huge growth in the commercial vehicle options as well as for medium and heavy duty. Um, and then I guess the political landscape and the regulatory environment has changed quite a bit, even over the last, um, decade and- and even over the last few years. Um, so this includes cities, particularly in Europe with things like zero emission zones where, you know, you’re gonna be penalized, um, or you can’t access certain areas if you, you’re not in a zero emission vehicle.

Charlotte Argue (09:53):

Um, and then now many countries and also sub nations are committing to phasing out combustion vehicle sales all together. And some of these target days as early as 2030 or 2035. So, you know, that would’ve been almost unimaginable- un- unimaginable just a few years ago. So it’s, uh, the political landscape and- and the- the vehicle market itself has- has changed. And I guess on the, on the fleet side, businesses too are committing pretty quickly to net zero emissions, which is also driving a- a new demand for- for EVs. So, yeah, there’s been a quite a shift really o- only in the last few years.

Gretchen Reese (10:33):

Mm-hmm (affirmative), you wanna know it, um, that kind of made me think of, have you ever seen the film dirty dancing before and- and seen with, um, how they’re describing just how music scene is changing a little bit? It almost reminds me of the line of just like lots of changes old Max, lots of changes, everything’s looking different (laughs), which it kind of is, you know, and when you were talking about the clean emission zones, I mean, I think that’s just fascinating too. I mean, I was back and forth between here and London and the UK for a long time, you know, before the pandemic and just noticing the clean emission zones and where you were even allowed to drive an internal combustion engine.

Gretchen Reese (11:12):

And then now, like you said, just the limitation of, you know, purchasing of fully internal combustion engine and even looking at hybrids being able to limit those and going purely to electric. I mean, and that’s not just the UK, that’s all over Europe, that’s Eastern Asia. I mean, it’s everywhere, right? And it’s fascinating to see how fast those changes have come upon us. And like you said, you know, the, without the political landscape, maybe just even with the consumer’s attitudes changing perhaps, or fleets attitudes changing that might not have been possible.

Charlotte Argue (11:45):

Yeah, no, I think, uh, it, it’s had to happen at all angles, so yeah, the- the regulation and the political changes wouldn’t be able to happen if there wasn’t, um, pressure elsewhere as well.

Gretchen Reese (11:56):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And so with that being kind of focusing on a global perspective, if we narrow in on the US and Canada, is it pretty similar to that or is it significantly different enough, do you think?

Charlotte Argue (12:10):

Um, well, if you look at EV uptake, um, generally, like it’s not evenly spread around the world, so it really depends on what country or region you’re looking at, at how quickly things are changing. Um, so if you take U.S. and Canada and compare them to parts of Europe, like we’re- we’re behind, I mean, the U.S. I think is about 2%, in Canada just over 4% of new sales being electric whereas places like the UK and France and Germany, they’re all over 10%. And then you have the Netherlands, which is out about 25%. And then the global leader, which everyone turns to is Norway, um, where I believe they get 75% of new car sales being electric, last year or earlier this year so-

Gretchen Reese (12:57):

You’re kidding.

Charlotte Argue (12:57):

… we’ve got a, quite a bit of catching up to do [crosstalk 00:13:00].

Gretchen Reese (13:00):

Oh, wow, (laughs).

Charlotte Argue (13:02):

Yeah. But, um, but yeah, I mean, even, so we may be a bit behind, um, but we’re on the same path and I, it- it does seem to have a bit of a domino effect. Like when one region kind of surges ahead, then a- a number of others quickly follow suit. And, um, you know, we, we’ve got a global market in general. So even though not all of, uh, the vehicles that are available in Europe are also available in north America, you still have kind of the research, um, the research and development and, um, you know, many models are, you know, global models too. So there’s- there’s kind of, we can piggyback off- off of some of that success.

Gretchen Reese (13:41):

Mm-hmm (affirmative), I always find no one wants to be the first but once someone takes the plunge, everyone wants to follow them. If they’ve been thinking about it, if it’s even been anywhere in their horizon, they’re like, oh, let’s do it now, we’ve seen a success story or how we don’t wanna do it. And then, like you said, so many people follow suit once you have an emerging leader. But on that note, what do you think it takes for a fleet to electrify then? Because there’s a lot of aspects to this conversation of electrifying whether that’s consumer or for fleet. I mean, obviously, you know, those two sectors of the purchasing market are very different, but what do you think it actually takes for a fleet to electrify?

Charlotte Argue (14:21):

Yeah. Um, well, I’d say there’s a number of different factors at play for fleets to successfully electrify. So first of all, you’ve got to have internal commitment or, well, it- it doesn’t just happen on its own. Um, mind you, the motivator may come internally, but it may also come externally with, uh, you know, some of these regulations and- and policies or programs but, um, ultimately you need to have people within that organization who are working, um, on- on their green fleet strategy or their electrification strategy, um, beyond that fleet operators really need to be confident that the technology and- and the vehicle can actually do the job. So they need to be certain that, okay, well, not only do we need the right vehicle type. So, you know, is the right size or class of vehicle available and their functionality available to do the job I need to do, but their drivers also need to be assured that the EV has su- sufficient range for their daily needs, um, and that they have the supporting infrastructure to charge them.

Charlotte Argue (15:25):

So if you, if- if they’re not able to, like, if the tech- technology isn’t there or if the infrastructure’s not there, then it’s gonna be, you know, kind of a no go for- for them to switch. Um, so choosing the right vehicle to replace for the right job is gonna be really essential for fleets. Um, and then at the end of the day, the total cost of ownership has to work for electrification to be scalable. And kind of the approach that Geotab has taken we’ve, we have a EV suitability assessment tool that analyzes vehicle usage. So if you are looking at your- your internal combustion vehicle, daily trips, and, you know, when they come back to this- this data can help feed into answering whether the- the EVs today are capable of doing that job and- and wouldn’t run out of range. Um, and then also important for the TCO.

Charlotte Argue (16:19):

So maybe there’s still, um, an upfront capital hit with EVs today, but there’s should be savings in the operations. So based on how that vehicle’s used with, when we were you gonna get that ROI, um, by switching and- and that particularly for fleets more than, uh, consumers who are a little less, um, lifecycle oriented, um, is really critical for- for them to know that yeah, an EV will be, will be suited for- for the work that I need it to do, and I can afford to do it and actually save money in the long term.

Gretchen Reese (16:53):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, affordability and suitability are definitely key. I mean, you know, why would you buy something if it doesn’t suit your needs or suit your work cycle or anything like that or even just your environment or your region. I mean, that would be interesting to try and do that, knowing that it wouldn’t work, but potentially this could be a vague question and it’s kind of building off of, you know, what is actually needed for fleets to be able to electrify or how they actually can do so, but could you tell me in your opinion, what some of the key benefits, you know, if fleets are able to electrify or even consumers for that matter, when we’re looking at the, you know, your s- your standard comer- uh, consumer vehicle, what are some of the key benefits of going electric?

Charlotte Argue (17:33):

Yeah. Uh, well, I do think s- a lot of the benefits are the same, um, whether you’re a private consumer or a fleet. Um, I mentioned the TCO, the importance of TCO for the fleet perspective, but, uh, overall EVs generally do save money in the long run, just ’cause they’re much less expensive to operate to both fuel, but also to maintain. Um, and from a fleet perspective, you know, the maintenance savings is particularly beneficial, not just for, you know, savings on, you know, parts that you have to replace, but also there’s just simply less downtime or, you know, fewer trips to the shop, uh, you know, you no lo- no longer have to go in for your oil changes, for example. So there’s a lot of added value and benefit of not having to take these fleets off the road or have, having to, um, get them, you know, as- as regularly checked or maintained.

Charlotte Argue (18:25):

Um, but it’s interesting, like a lot of times the, you know, the benefits when people talk about EVs, it- it jumps straight to, you know, the mission savings and the, and the cost savings in the long run. But if you actually ask drivers what they like most about their EV and what they value about, uh, driving electric vehicles typically, uh, they’re gonna talk about the driving experience itself. So, you know, these vehicles have really great acceleration. They have good torque, amazing torque. Um, they’re quiet. Of course, if you’re sitting idling, you’re not inhaling fumes. So, uh, I, uh, if you do feel often user experience can be sometimes overlooked when like, kind of going through the benefits, but from the perspective of the driver of the operator, you know, that’s the most tangible benefit to them. Um, and of course they no longer have to stop at a Gas sta- station or cringe when the prices go up before a long weekend. So that’s always a bonus too.

Gretchen Reese (19:20):

Yeah, don’t get me started on the, I think it’s now above $3 a gallon. And now that it’s actually back above that, I just re- I just start thinking, okay, how did I ever drive so much that I needed to fill my gas tank up minimum once a week and want to pay this much for gasoline? Like, ugh, ugh, don’t even wanna think about it. Um, okay, so, you know, I’ve heard of a lot of organizations, so organizations, I should say, especially their fleet managers, you know, they’re saying that when we’re talking about the fueling side of, um, EVs that the installation and the deployment of this charging infrastructure, right, because fuel stations are so widely available, but charging infrastructure maybe seems not to be at least, you know, in the region where I’m in and I’m based in Minneapolis, um, looking at how much charging infrastructure you see out and about, it’s not as widely available as your standard gas station. Um, but they say that that’s gonna be the most difficult part of electrification. And I’m curious to know why that could be such a massive challenge.

Charlotte Argue (20:29):

Yeah. Well, first I off, um, I think we have to think of, you know, electrification for fleets and their charging needs is very different than electrification for consumers. So, and I’m gonna generalize here ’cause it’s not the case for all fleets but for a good majority of fleets, they’re not gonna be relying on public charging infrastructure. So for the most part, it’s kind of irrelevant, um, on what that charging network looks like for fleets to be able to transition their own, um, vehicles. And- and that’s typically because, you know, the best time to charge is- is gonna be at either at a fleet yard or maybe at their, the- the stops that they do at their customers sites, um, with the exception of, you know, the longer, uh, or interregional, um, duty cycles. But yeah, I mean, for- for fleets there, there’s an entirely new skillset that’s needed to properly design for and deploy this charging infrastructure.

Charlotte Argue (21:28):

So even in installing charging at fleet’s own facilities where you think, okay, they have full control over this, so this should be within, um, you know, n- not that, um, big a challenge to overcome. It’s gonna involve personnel, for example, outside of the fleet department, such as the facilities managers. So you’re gonna have to have some interdepartmental coordination that maybe you haven’t needed to have before with your fleet operations. Um, and then fleets may need to seek external expertise to pla- actually plan for in size the charging infrastructure, because it’s unlikely they have these skills already in house. Um, and for one like for one or two cars or maybe a small pilot, it’s a actually quite simple to throw in, you know, a couple level, two charters, you need a two 40 volt connection and it’s- it’s not that complex, but if you’re planning for, you know, large commercial vehicles or, you know, a future EV expans- expansion where you may be starting with a couple of vehicles, but, you know, okay, over the next five years, 50% of my car and trucks are gonna be electric.

Charlotte Argue (22:30):

You know, suddenly a fleet operator is faced with, you know, a huge long list of considerations that they’ve never had a deal wi- with before. Uh, so this includes maybe they have limited electrical capacity where they need to engage their utility for upgrades. Um, they have to consider, you know, demand charges in their, um, region, which is related to their electric city bills. And, um, there’s ways that they can optimize the site power that’s available with things like energy or let, load management solutions. Um, but this means ensuring that you’re choosing the right charging technology and that it’s, you know, set to be scaled and sized for both your existing or planned EVs, but also for future expansion that maybe, uh, is still a little bit unknown. Um, and then you also have to make sure that the charging is size so that it’s compatible with your fleet duty cycle.

Charlotte Argue (23:23):

So when vehicles are parked, um, that there’s enough time for whatever powered charging stations you’re- you’re putting in, um, for them to be completely full for the next day. So, and okay, so that’s just at a fleet owned facility, but then you have the question of that well, maybe some of my vehicles are take home vehicles and my drivers actually take them to their own home along overnight. So then you have to start thinking about, well, what do I need, um, to support these like charging a- a driver’s home or access to, um, alternative, uh, charging locations. So, and there’s, um, it’s also match-able, like there’s a proven solutions out there to make it all work, uh, there’s technologies, there’s great people working on the space and great, um, providers who are offering solutions, but it’s, you know, a- a very steep learning curve. So from the perspective of fleet operator, um, and every even utilities, this is new, um, for them as well, uh, electricity isn’t new, but, um, electricity is a transportation fuel is new. Um, so it’s gonna require collaboration with- with a number of other stakeholders and- and folks.

Gretchen Reese (24:31):

Mm-hmm (affirmative), well, and I think a lot of this has to do with just managing your data and understanding, you know, where, like you said, you know, where the charging is actually going to take place if the grid can handle it. And I think a lot of that, if you’re just looking at data as is being able to manage data just on your own in a variety of spreadsheets can actually prove to be quite difficult. And then if we broaden this to talk and then add in the electric vehicle side, not just the charging infrastructure, it makes it even more complex. And I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this. So can you tell me about the importance of monitoring additions, like charging infrastructure and electric vehicles, um, and by monitoring that data using, say, for example, telematics, like you were talking about with Geotabs, um, EV telematics or for something like a data management platform.

Charlotte Argue (25:24):

Yeah. So I mean, data is- is gonna make fleet operators lives a lot, um, a lot easier. So most of what I’ve talked about so far is more like using the information of your, like your existing duty cycles to help inform, um, where to best place, um, and how to best plan for infrastructure. But once fleet start to, um, implement or deploy EVs, um, there’s gonna be a few new pieces of information that’s gonna be pretty critical for them to successfully manage and optimize those electric vehicles. So, I mean, the first is just knowing simple pieces of information, like what is the state of charge of my vehicles and- and then what is the status of whether that vehicle is- is currently charging or is it currently driving and where is it located, uh, all of this in real time.

Charlotte Argue (26:20):

Um, so let’s just imagine I’m a dispatch personnel and, um, if I knew what vehicles, you know, have what st- percent of charge or what range left, um, then I can be better at, you know, knowing which ones have to plug in or which ones are ready to do a particular route. Um, so that can, um, be, you know, essential information to ensure that there’s not gonna ever be someone stranded, um, on a route that they actually couldn’t have made. Um, and knowing this information in real time can also help operator ensure that if a vehicle’s parked and should be charging actually is. And in the early days, um, of, you know, new drivers and- and fleet starting to implement EVs, you will see a lot where we have seen a lot of either drivers forgetting to plug in at their end, the end of the shift, or maybe they plug it in, but perhaps the connection didn’t, um, sign on between the charger and the, and the vehicle with, without them realizing it.

Charlotte Argue (27:20):

And then you have a situation where the next driver that the following day comes to a vehicle that is, you know, doesn’t have enough range for their- their, um, their drive. So, you know, a- a great example of how to, technology can help it in this is, you know, having an auto alert system where the vehicle can, um, knows if it’s plugged in or not. And so if there’s a rule that says well [inaudible 00:27:48] well, when the vehicle comes back to yard, the fleet yard, and, uh, it doesn’t start charging, we don’t see a charge signal within three minutes of it parked, well there’s an automatic alert or phone call, or what have you to either the- the operator on site or- or the driver, um, so that you never have to have that fear of the vehicle actually not charging overnight. So that tho- those are some examples of how, you know, connected vehicle technology can help ensure that, um, that EVs are- are managed and optimized.

Charlotte Argue (28:19):

Um, and then the other aspect to kind of monitoring, I think you touched on that, the monitoring side of it is just being able to report on, um, your- your vehicle’s usage and- and use. So reporting on energy use and- and charging, for example, to manage fuel co- costs. So if you think about traditionally fleets will use, uh, a fuel card system to track all this and, you know, assign cost to the right departments et cetera. So, um, you’re no longer using the same fuel card system when you start bringing in these EVs. So being able to have the vehicle report on its charging events and it pull that into an auto report where then, you know, you can track costs by vehicle, but also this can allow for things like fuel reimbursement if a, if a driver plugs the vehicle at their own home, um, it makes things a lot more seamless.

Gretchen Reese (29:10):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So how long do you think it’ll be before most fleets are, or I should say most fleets, light duty vehicles will be completely ele- completely electric?

Charlotte Argue (29:20):

(laughs) Um, yeah, if I had a crystal ball, well-

Gretchen Reese (29:27):

That would be nice if we all had one, honestly, I would love that for somethings.

Charlotte Argue (29:33):

… um, I think it’s gonna happen before, I- I think it’s gonna happen sooner than most people realize, ’cause um, so experts are saying that price parity for electric cars and, uh, we’re not talking about trucks here, we’re talking about cars, um, it’s expected in maybe two to three years.

Gretchen Reese (29:47):


Charlotte Argue (29:48):

And when that happens, there’s really not gonna be, um, a reason not to go electric for fleets. They’re essentially gonna be losing money if they stick with gas cars. And actually we did a macro assessment, um, on all of our light duty fleets in U.S. and Canada and already today, almost two thirds of those vehicles would be more cost effective if they went electric. And that’s considering the fact that there’s a higher capital, um, for a sticker price on these vehicles. So as soon as price parity, you know, hits, it’s gonna be, you know, essentially all of those vehicles.

Charlotte Argue (30:29):

Um, there might be a few exceptions with really high utili- u- use vehicles or where charging structure is just not feasible, um, that wouldn’t be able to switch to EV as quickly. I mean, there is also potential for plug-in hybrids as well in those cases though. Um, but yeah, I think at that when cars become price, have that price parity, there’ll just be a matter of waiting out the procurement cycles for the fleet turnover. Um, but yeah, light duty includes pickup truck so I think that’s the- the elephant in the room, um, because we’re particularly for north America where we love our trucks.

Gretchen Reese (31:09):

Oh yes.

Charlotte Argue (31:09):

Um, so yeah, and I know a lot of fleets are kinda chomping at the, they’re waiting for the electric pickups and so close, uh, Ford lunched their Lightning truck earlier this year and Tesla has their Cybertruck coming out and Rivian as well as a few others. So, um, yeah, the electric pickup trucks are really gonna be the game changer, I think for- for fleets to-

Gretchen Reese (31:32):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Charlotte Argue (31:32):

… to make that transition.

Gretchen Reese (31:34):

You know, I had a friend, um, come and visit me from, uh, the UK once and this was a few years ago and you wanna know the first thing he said when he got into the parking lot at the MSP airport, he goes, he goes, “Okay, the rumors are true. You guys all drive pickup trucks?” And I said, “Well, to be fair, not all of us because I drive an SUV. So there’s that.” (laughs) But it was like rose and rose and rose and rose and rose the pickup trucks. And so I guess the rumors are true we all drive pickup trucks all tend to be in one area at one time, believe it or not, (laughs). But along the lines of, so we were talking about, you know, light duty vehicles being electric and all the exciting new launches that we’re seeing from, you know, folks like Rivian and Nissan and Ford, especially with the F-150 Lighting.

Gretchen Reese (32:20):

I also heard some exciting news along the lines of, um, Canada and light duty trucks, zero emissions cars it’s that, It has correct me if I’m wrong in this one, a mandatory sales target of a 100%, zero emissions, um, for cars and light duty trucks from 2035. I’m curious what you think this means for fleets across north America? Well, I should say specifically Canada, but as they plan for the new policy change, what do you think is in store for ’em.

Charlotte Argue (32:48):

Yeah, well, yeah, and this is, uh, hot off [inaudible 00:32:50] a few weeks old, um, but Canada’s not alone in this. So they have, they used to have more of a voluntary, um, target for all new sales for light duty cars by 2040, but they’ve increased that to 2035 and, um, have included light duty trucks. So pickup trucks, um, as well as they’ve- they’ve said that they’re, it’s gonna be a mandatory sales requirement. So, um, but yeah, as I say, Canada is not the only one doing this, um, California and several states have various versions of an EV sales mandate as do a number of countries around the world. I think for Canada, this, um, it’s gonna have to be accompanied by supportive policies and investments in infrastructure just to ensure it’s a feasible target. But at the moment, um, we do have more demand than supply and most of the existing programs and policies to date have been on the demand side.

Charlotte Argue (33:46):

So really a sales target, like this helps balance that out. And honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if many fleets are actually ahead of the 20, 35 sales ban. Um, particularly as they prove out the business case, um, electrification is gonna be a part of many of their own sustainability and climate targets. And if they can prove it or show that they can save money by transitioning, um, I think that all that’s just gonna make it all the more likely that it’ll happen within the next decade. So yeah, I think, um, I think it’ll help with the- the supply side, but I- I think many fleets may actually beat that target.

Gretchen Reese (34:26):

Mm-hmm (affirmative), that’s awesome to see, um, I’m looking forward to it. I think it’ll be really cool to see, not just, you know, a nation adopting that again, because like you said, there’s a ton of nations that have already done so but you know, for the folks that their biggest argument is I don’t think EVs can work in cold weather. I think it’s kinda great that Canada’s going first here and then, you know, hopefully there’s a bunch of colder regions to follow that actually realize that EVs can work and it doesn’t matter the region, doesn’t matter the climate, they can do it. It’s just, you know, that might affect the range a little bit, but it can still work.

Charlotte Argue (35:00):

Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Gretchen Reese (35:02):

So Charlotte, is there anything else you’d like to add on the topics of electrification or new mandates or EV data management before we wrap up?

Charlotte Argue (35:11):

Um, yeah, I- I think even though I’m optimistic about where the EV industry is heading, I’m a- also realistic that it’s not just gonna be magic, that it all kinda comes together. So there’s a lot of pieces that need to be worked on. And, um, there are a lot of people working on solving some of the challenges and the barriers, um, from every angle. So we’ve got technology providers and OEMs and utilities and associations and governments all kind of working to- to solve this. Um, but on the fleet side specifically, I think just fleets are such an important player in all of this. And, um, some of the early movers and, you know, early EV adopters who are trialing it out and making mistakes and learning from the, these mistakes, they’re really gonna be the ones, um, showcasing, you know, how this transition is gonna, you know, not only work, but also provide a lot of value and benefit, um, to them.

Charlotte Argue (36:08):

And- and I think being ahead of regulation and- and being there ready for, you know, as- as the world shifts, um, and as our fuel sort as shifts, they’ll be in a much better place to be, uh, prepared for that resilient for- for future change. So, yeah, and I think there’s a lot of exciting stuff happening. It’s- it’s even hard for me, it’s been in the industry for so long to- to try even try to keep up with- with all the, um, the new, you know, policy and the new fleet commitments and all that but every, everything I’m hearing, it’s, uh, it’s pretty exciting- exciting to be part of the- the industry and part of this movement.

Gretchen Reese (36:44):

Mm-hmm (affirmative), I love being able to actually witness innovation at its peak and kind of in its stride too. I mean, I think that’s one- one of the coolest parts about being in the fleet industry itself is you just can, you get to see technology change at such a rapid pace and it truly just is fascinating because, you know, bringing it full circle from what we were talking about at the beginning of the show, it’s changed so much in five to 10 years, and it’ll be interesting to see, especially at the pace we’re going now, how it changes in one year, two years, and then even five and maybe five might be the benchmark for being the, oh my gosh, this is so much more time, especially from an innovation perspective than we initially thought, because, you know, 20, 30 seems like a long time away, but really it’s only about six years.

Gretchen Reese (37:28):

So it’s not that far to go. But, um, Charlotte, I’m sure there’s gonna be at least a few folks listening here today that will be interested in continuing this conversation out outside of Fleet FYIs. So other than this podcast and sending me an email to get in touch with you, where can people get in touch?

Charlotte Argue (37:46):

Yeah, well probably the easiest way to find me is on LinkedIn. So Charlotte Argue, um, or please feel free to just reach out through the contact page at the Geotab website. And yeah, if you have a electrification question or you wanna reach out to me then you can, uh, forward along your- your inquiries. So those are the two ways you can get in touch.

Gretchen Reese (38:08):

Awesome. All right, Charlotte, well, I appreciate your time and I’m so glad that you were able to join us today to be on the podcast. I’m so happy you were here and thank you so much for joining me.

Charlotte Argue (38:18):

Yeah. Thanks so much for the invitation. It was a lot of fun.

Gretchen Reese (38:34):

What are your opinions on electrification? I know it’s not at the top of everyone’s list, especially since, as I’ve stated on multiple occasions at this point, sustainability isn’t just a single faceted term, absolutely not. It’s multifaceted. There’s many aspects of the movement and electrification is only a small part of it. I wanna know what you think. Send me an email at Mention Me on LinkedIn or use the hashtag Utilimarc Fleet FYIs. I’m looking forward to hearing from you and I’m looking forward to catching up with you again next week in your headphones on Thursday, until then chao. Hey there, I think this is the time that I should cue the virtual high five because you’ve just finished listening to another episode of the Fleet FYI’s podcast. If you’re already wanting more content head over to, which is Utilimarc with a C for the show notes and extra insights coming straight from our analyst to you. That’s all for me this week. So until next time I’ll catch you later.

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Gretchen Reese

Growth Marketing Manager

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