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Comment: Navigating the switch to EVs

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Barney Goffer, UK product manager at Teletrac Navman, on how fleets can best approach the switch to electric vehicles.

Barney Goffer, UK product manager at Teletrac Navman

Making the move from internal combustion engines (ICE) to electric vehicles (EV) can be overwhelming for fleet operators. And with the Government’s 2030 phase-out of new petrol and diesel car and van sales impending, pressure to electrify commercial fleets is mounting.

This move prompts some immediate considerations, including how to select the right EV for your business, what is the total cost of ownership and is it financially viable to switch, how to best support your employees and the business through the change and how toa optimise the execution. It is a move all fleet operators will eventually have to make, but it doesn’t have to be a daunting process.

EV transition takes time

The switch from ICEs to EVs is a very welcome move for the environment, as figures estimate that an electric car over its lifetime, will produce 50% less CO2 emissions than an average EU car today. In addition, in 2019, 27% of the UKs total emissions came from transport, with 91% of those being road transport vehicles, so an electric future will have a prominent impact.

However, changing a whole fleet cannot simply be done overnight. Fleet operators should work closely with a fleet management partner that can analyse an existing fleet and establish which vehicles are ready to be converted from petrol or diesel, to electric. For the switch-over of circa 40 vehicles, it can take anywhere between 13 – 28 months to complete the fleet analysis, run trials, procure vehicles, analyse charging infrastructure and deploy charge points. From this point, there is an on-going phased roll out, training, data analysis and integrations to be completed.

These timings are based on companies who have access to their existing fleet’s telematics data. If data isn’t available, it will take another three months to collect this and analyse the fleet.

Take charge of your migration strategy

In the first instance, a fleet management partner can assist in examining vehicle data, such as car or van payload and intended use, duty cycles such as utilisation trends and miles per day, as well as emissions and efficiency. Dwell times need to be considered, with a view to incorporating electric charging whilst vehicles are stationary.

Venturing into the world of EVs can conjure up many questions for fleet operators. Where should the fleet’s chargers be positioned – at home, the deport or somewhere else? What electrical capacity do you have and how is it utilised? What speed of chargers do you need to support your business model and what energy do you need across a 24-hour period – can you balance load without upgrading and investing unnecessarily?

Taking on an electric fleet means stepping foot into a totally new specialism, which can feel overbearing. However, the right fleet management partner can calculate and automate this information using telematics data and artificial intelligence technology to summarise the best possible strategy for the business. They can also calculate electricity costs and compare against other tariffs for optimal financial gain and present the details so that fleet operators can make real-time, informed decisions.

Access support to switch

To help speed up the decarbonisation of transport, in some areas – such as Leeds – government funded trials are enabling organisations to try EVs for two months at no charge. By utilising these trials, where available, fleet operators will be able to create more realistic and achievable EV charging strategies. Similarly, government grants such as the Plug-in Van Grant and the Plug-in Truck Grant, are expected to continue until at least FY2022/23. So, there’s lots of opportunity for fleet operators to access financial help during the switch to EV.


Although it may feel like 2030 is still a long way off yet, planning and implementing EV strategies take time and consideration, so it is important to act is now. But in order to make the best decisions, fleet operators must utilise their vehicle’s valuable data to truly understand how they operate and be able to transform those insights into meaningful business decisions. Apply the expertise of a fleet management partner that can access and analyse vehicle telematics, to expedite the process. Finally, set clear reasoning and a phased approach, for a streamlined and successful switch to EVs.

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