A quick look around the industry tells us that green fleets are here to stay. Whether companies are adding hybrid or all-electric vehicles to their lineup, or are experimenting with alternative fuels, the green movement continues to be top of mind for both manufacturers and brands.
As exciting as technological advancements are, the changeover to a green fleet is not necessarily a straightforward one. Adding hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs) is not the same as bringing a traditional vehicle on board; they require different parts, different infrastructure, and have different cost models.
The process can be complex, which is why we recommend doing your homework when making decisions on how to incorporate sustainability into your fleet policy.
Here are a couple of things to think about.
EVs and plug-in hybrids require charging stations, which means an extra cost to plan for. We recommend making a plan that’s right for your fleet. Will you buy the vehicles first? Or install the charging stations?
On one hand, you probably don’t want to get the vehicles and have them sitting unused until the stations are onsite. On the other hand, you don’t want to install expensive charging stations without getting approval to buy electric vehicles.
One suggestion is to start with gas hybrids, which don’t plug in. Once you begin to see some fuel and cost savings, then you can start adding EVs and investing in charging stations down the road.
- New vehicle specifications
Greening your fleet often means purchasing a different make—not just a different model. With that in mind, you’ll likely want to write new specifications for what you’re looking for in an electric vehicle, being careful to consider all available vehicles to ensure competitive standards.
We suggest including language that helps ensure your leasing partner sources the most efficient and effective vehicles available. It helps to work closely with your suppliers to make sure that, if there are greener models on the market, you can factor them into your standards for mileage, durability, and functionality.
One more reminder is that new specs should include more than just miles per gallon. Think about factoring in new costs for equipment replacement and operation—which might be much lower than your current fleet.
- Key partnerships
Piggybacking from the last point, we recommend working with a fleet management partner who is readily available to help. With new vehicles and new research, a knowledgeable partner can make all the difference. Green is great, but not everything available on the market is practical for your fleet. You’ll want someone who can tell you which features you do and don’t need.
If you’re not leasing, now might be a good time to start, especially if you want to save on those infamous up-front costs for hybrids and EVs. Just like purchasing a vehicle, leasing may take some time to see the return on your investment, but you should realize the benefits of combined fuel savings, operations savings, and other efficiencies well within your term.
Getting stakeholders on board may or may not be a problem in your company, but it’s a good thing to plan for, just in case. You might get resistance, for example, from drivers who are worried that EVs won’t meet their operational needs. Or it might be senior management that needs to be convinced that bringing in new technology will be supportable and maintainable.
If you prepare for these conversations with some research—Green Fleet Magazine is a good resource—you can demonstrate that your fleet can be as successful with green vehicles, if not more.