Source: NAFA Fleet Management Association (
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PRESIDENT AND CEO, TELESWIVEL
A: The pace of change of fleet technologies is dizzying, from telematics to cyber security for connected vehicles. Soon we'll be thinking about how autonomous technology can support fleet operations. Add the renewed interest and push for EV and EV infrastructure, and the amount of complex issues on a fleet manager's plate starts to become mind boggling.
Fleet managers in smaller organizations tend to throw up their hands and say, "Let someone else figure it out. We'll catch up later." Their focus is getting everything from point A to point B safely. Their focus is tactical, out of necessity.
Everyone is talking about EVs -- almost to the exclusion of other alternative fuels. There are alternative fuel vehicles that should still be considered as well. Some of that progress in alternative fuels is being droned out by all the buzz over EVs.
Fleet managers have been working on alternative fuel strategies for 10 years or more and have invested in it and fought a lot of battles. They shouldn't have to throw out their investment in alternative fuels. The move to EVs is going to be a slow transition. Fleets should consider employing a combination of fuels to meet their needs.
The first and most important consideration for all of these fuels is infrastructure: "Where can my vehicles get fuel?"
Some fleet managers are working to sell electrification to their executive leadership -- and then run into complex objections and concerns. The leadership doesn't find it attractive due to increased upfront costs and longer ROI. There are EV and EVSE rebates in certain areas, where some fleets can take advantage, but launching a fleet electrification program is still a tall hill for a lot of fleets. Yet, even with the challenges, the electrification of fleets is a pretty clear trend.
DAVE WOOLF »
PHOTO: © ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/PORTFOLIO/ДМИТРИЙ_ЛАРИЧЕВ
PHOTO: © ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/PORTFOLIO/ДМИТРИЙ_ЛАРИЧЕВ »
"The move to EVs is going to be a slow transition. Fleets should consider employing a combination of fuels to meet their needs."
In considering EVs, the fleet managers who are implementing programs recommend starting with an analysis of the vehicles you have and their current use cases. That fleet analysis is the first step in thinking about the future, and also enables right-size planning to assess if you have the right number and the right type of vehicles. The fleet analysis/right-sizing planning sets up a power needs analysis to determine base infrastructure needs.
There is also a lot of planning and investment that goes into the transition to electric. For example, you could need to expand parking lots and renovate facilities to accommodate an upgraded electric infrastructure. It could be a pretty big project.
Fleet managers must lobby for what they want and get leadership support for the resources they need, but they also probably have to sell laterally and down because complex changes affect so much of the organization. The organizational change piece is critical.
With the pace of change they are facing, I imagine many fleet managers feel overwhelmed. But they should remember that there are great resources to help them get started and learn from others' experiences. We see a lot of information on lessons learned on complex issues in the online NAFA member communities every week.