From Fuel Cards to Data: Navigating the Radical Changes Happening in Fleet Management
By Mike Brown, VP of Product
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The transition to net-zero mobility is gaining pace. And not just in the passenger car market, but in the commercial vehicle sector too.
The target to reduce car and van emissions by 100% by 2035 is high on the agenda of fleet managers as they look for ways to optimise their operations during this transitional stage in vehicle electrification.
With the EU proposing further measures to reduce the carbon emissions of buses and trucks, heavy-duty fleets are also under pressure to accelerate their use of technology to futureproof their businesses.
Sales of electric vehicles are increasing
Despite the UK Government’s recent announcement to push the ban on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle sales from 2030 to 2035, the wider business landscape is already well underway in transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs).
EV sales are one of the clearest indicators of the rate at which net-zero mobility is growing in Europe. For example, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) reports that registrations of new battery-electric trucks in the EU grew by a staggering 351.5% in the first half of 2023.
Similarly, Fleet News reports that in August this year, battery-electric van registrations in the UK alone grew by 18.9% to secure a 6.9% market share for the month.
Overcoming infrastructure challenges
As a result of increased EV sales, industry stakeholders have raised concerns about the ability for public charging infrastructures across Europe to cope with the increase in demand for electric vehicles.
In response, the EU has mandated that from 2025 onwards, fast charging stations will offer at least 150kW of power, and be installed every 60km along the Trans-European Transport Network’s (TEN-T) primary motorways.
Key considerations for commercial fleets
In order to achieve net-zero emissions by 2035, companies need to approach fleet optimisation as they would any other major business transformation. They need to ensure that stakeholders, vehicles, energy sources, infrastructure, and business operations are all aligned effectively.
Fleet managers will no longer manage their vehicles through fuel cards. In the electric age, they’ll be managing energy sources, charging schedules, and vehicle usage patterns to ensure operational resilience.
Given that EV fleets require detailed planning across multiple workflows, fleet managers and drivers will need to learn new digital skills. Software platforms like VEV-IQ will become essential tools in supporting operational optimisation.
How fleet managers can prepare for the transition to EVs
In this transitional phase for fleet operations, companies need to be fully prepared to capitalise on the benefits that electrification can bring to their business.
At VEV, we’re helping fleet owners prepare and stay ahead of the inevitable supply chain crunch that will follow when everyone looks to make the transition to electrification closer to the deadline. There are several advantages of being an early adopter, including being compliant for major tenders and accessing grid upgrades ahead of likely constraints.
One of the key factors in planning an effective transition is to consider your vehicle types, their routes, their operational patterns and your energy availability. Once you have a good overview of these factors, you’ll be in a better position to make decisions about what electric vehicle types will best suit your needs.
Fleet managers should analyse their company’s ICE fleet telematics data to determine the electrification readiness of their vehicles and the routes they cover. It’s likely that some vehicles will be ready for immediate transition, which in turn, will provide learning opportunities for future phasing.
Power is key for fleet operations, and to ensure operational resilience. Having access to solar energy and battery storage can reduce the costs of upgrading infrastructure. Likewise, they can reduce operating costs, and create a more resilient energy system where fleets are always ready to operate.
To maximise efficiency, fleet managers need to ensure that they have the correct balance of infrastructure to meet the company’s fleet needs, and to avoid over-investing. Too often, fleet managers misjudge the appropriate mix of vehicles and chargers. At VEV, we often see new EV fleets being over-specified, causing an overspend of up to 20%.
As well as upskilling themselves, fleet managers should also encourage their drivers to undertake EV training. When driven well, an electric vehicle can typically increase its range by up to 20%, improving operational efficiency, and keeping energy costs down.
Green business is big business
Fleet emissions make up 10% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. Electrifying your fleet is non-negotiable, and will pay dividends immediately in the low-carbon contracts you can secure. As a new and complex undertaking, bringing in expertise to anticipate and resolve inevitable challenges will prove to be a good investment.
Moreover, given the pace at which the role of fleet management is evolving, now is the time to provide employees with upskilling opportunities before they start looking elsewhere.
At VEV, we understand the challenges that companies face when transitioning their fleets, and we have the tools and capabilities to help you navigate the journey.
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