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Electric Vehicles for Commercial Customers

Things to Consider Before Beginning an EV Fleet Conversion

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) adoption is projected to increase dramatically over the next 10 to 20 years.  Anticipated regulatory changes, prices comparable to internal combustion engines, battery range improvements, enhanced vehicle performance and increased availability of electric charging infrastructure are all leading to this anticipated increase.

There are a few key factors to consider before beginning an electric vehicle fleet transition for your business or operation.

Electrical Grid Capacity and Charging Equipment

Plan for utility-side upgrades at fleet charging locations as early as possible. It can take many months to negotiate, plan, implement and agree on cost-sharing arrangements with the local utilities. Communicate regularly with utility and electrical engineers to ensure that all power requirements can be met. 


Consider standardizing electric vehicle service equipment across all facilities to minimize maintenance costs and implementation obstacles. Standardization will provide flexibility to accommodate BEVs manufactured by different original equipment manufacturers, which will support competitive procurement. Standardization also includes adopting an IT system that can operate on existing fleet vehicles and BEVs, so that your organization does not have to manage two systems at once.

Electric Vehicle and Battery Sizing

When selecting the vehicle and battery size for EV fleets, prioritize specific operating needs. Consider the required vehicle range per day (which typically depends on the routes traveled), fluctuation in miles traveled, opportunities for charging en route and charging station availability in the selection process. For replacing vehicles that typically travel less than 100 miles per day, a BEV would be most suitable. For vehicles that need to travel longer distances, or emergency vehicles that require immediate or prolonged availability, a BEV with a larger battery or a hybrid option may be a better choice. When selecting a battery size, consider factors that decrease  battery range, such as operating during cold weather, extreme heat or very hilly routes.


EV Fleet Implementation and Operations Planning

Conduct a full evaluation and study of the entire fleet before any implementation begins. For large fleet owners, a multi-phased approach is recommended to minimize risks and disruptions to operations. The first phase should include electrifying vehicles that will lead to the least disruption of current operations. This means focus on vehicles that travel short distances and for limited durations. This allows operators to gather information on vehicle performance, including battery capacity, charge times, maintenance needs and other logistics, which can be used in future phases. Next, evaluate the current vehicle operations so that you can quantify what an average travel day looks like as well as the maximum potential distance a fleet vehicle might travel. Once a charging scheme is determined, your organization can plan operational changes to accommodate charging, allowing for a seamless transition when the BEVs are incorporated into the fleet.


Incentives and Tax Credits

Incentives and tax credits available for electric vehicle purchases can make the buying of an electric vehicle even more affordable and enticing. Check with a local tax specialist to determine any and all state or federal tax credits and incentives available to electric vehicle and charging station owners.

Utility rebates may also be available to offset the costs of switching to an EV. For information about current rebates please visit PG&E’s website. Pioneer customers are eligible for all PG&E rebates and incentives.

Phased Installation and EV Fleet Implementation

Take a staggered approach to implementing BEVs in your fleet. As the implementation process moves along, there is the opportunity to allow charging and battery technology to develop further and better accommodate the vehicles that travel longer distances or support more variable operations. However, regulations and emissions reduction target dates are quickly approaching. Gasoline-powered cars available for purchase will be phased out in California by 2035. A phased implementation must be designed to ensure your organization is prepared to meet these and emerging state mandates.

Electric Load Management

Effective energy management is the key to keeping utility costs down. Tools like charge-monitoring software can help you ensure that all vehicles are charged while managing the electric loads and avoiding peak demand charges. In addition, effective energy management may reduce the amount of infrastructure needed and lower upfront investment costs. 

If possible, install charging stations where the vehicles are stored when not in use. If vehicles require charging during operations, fast-charging locations should be installed in locations that are central to fleet operations. For charging that occurs overnight and at vehicle storage locations, confirm power availability by coordinating with the energy utility. This way, both organizations can assess the current capacity and plan the required electric upgrades. 

Transitioning your fleet to BEVs can be challenging. BEVs require longer refueling times, operational changes, and modifications to driver behavior as compared to diesel or gasoline-powered vehicles, but with planning and coordination with your energy provider, you can make a seamless transition to a greener, more compliant and sustainable future.