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Planning, Preparing, and Policy: EV Success Tips for Cities and Universities
Aug 1, 2022 | This article was originally published on FLEETsolutions
At I&E 2022, several university and municipal fleet managers gathered to share their strategies for implementing EVs and charging infrastructure, as well as optimizing EVs already in operation. Here are some highlights from their recommendations.
1. Planning for Electrification.
- Make a roadmap. “Start with a rough draft, a simple roadmap on paper,” advises David Mesa, fleet manager at the City of San Jose, California. “Look at your data to determine where EVs are a good fit for your particular fleet.”
- Get people on board. “Find your internal champions, the people in your organization with sustainability credentials,” says Clinton Bench, director, fleet and transit, for UCLA Transportation at UCLA. “Get them to help you find good test cases.”
- Collect data. Lisa McGhee, business development manager at GreenPower Motor Company, recommends that fleet managers “try to flow into the technology organically.” She started by collecting data for six months on just two EVs. “That data will help tremendously and save you from missteps when you buy more EVs,” she says.
- Infrastructure before vehicles. Before you get too excited picking out vehicles, Bench says to focus on the infrastructure to support the charging. “Don’t let the cart drag the horse,” he says. “You will need charging facilities in convenient locations, ready to use. Plan that out early.”
- Train your people. Bench suggests getting factory training from your OEM on how to do the regular maintenance, even if the vehicle is still under warranty. “It’s hard to find legitimate EV experts,” adds McGhee. “Turn to those who have real experience on the ground.”
- Don’t wait. While it may be tempting to sit back and let others make the mistakes first, McGhee points out that early adoption brings benefits such as bigger rebates.
2. Preparing Your Organization
- Make the case. Bench says fleet managers must prepare documentation up front that presents the savings and total cost of ownership for internal customers. “We got great relief from lower maintenance costs once our organization embraced EVs,” says McGhee. “Success comes from leadership. Prioritize the data and get everyone onboard and feeling the same way.”
- Set up a Ride & Drive. Mesa pointed out that different stakeholders have very different needs. “Set up a Ride & Drive event so they can get in a vehicle and experience the EV,” he says. “Don’t underestimate the anxiety connected to EVs.”
- Think through the charging plan. “Be mindful of where you put the charging stations,” advises McGhee. “And use fast charging — you’ll save money because you’ll need fewer stations. Your vehicles will charge in one hour instead of 10 hours.”
- Invest in the technology. Bench reminded fleet managers that telematics and EVs go together. “Pay attention to the data from your EV’s onboard computer,” he says, “especially the data from the charging system. The best system is networked chargers that can connect on all vehicles.”
3. Responding to Policy
- Be the policy driver. Bench recommends that fleet managers drive their organization’s EV policy whenever possible. “Be on the front end instead of having the EV policy made for you,” he says. “You need to be the one determining the replacement policy and the green fleet policy.”
- Break down the budget. Mesa says university and municipal fleet managers must work with their city councils and share the costs with them. “Break it down and show the budget they need to supply to do each part of the plan,” he says. “Say, ‘If you’re giving me your expectations, this is what we need from you too.’”
In making their predictions for what’s next, Mesa urged fleet managers to build up their charging infrastructure now to get prepared. When designing infrastructure, Bench says fleet managers should also future proof as much as possible because autonomous vehicles are coming. “Autonomy and electric go hand-in-hand,” he says.