Event Gives West Coast Companies, Governments a Jump on EV Goal

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This coming Monday, Clean Energy Canada and the Fraser Basin Council—in collaboration with Electric Mobility Canada—are presenting Electrify Your Fleet in Vancouver, as part of Electric Mobility Canada’s national EV2014VE conference. This preview by Jeremy Moorhouse and Charlotte Argue outlines why electric vehicles and fleets make for a perfect match.

Electric vehicles have emerged from the garages of gearheads and landed in the nation’s auto malls.

And though the numbers aren’t yet threatening the gasmobiles, the early adopters snapping up EVs have proven the cars a practical choice for many. While pure electric vehicles are not quite perfect for everyone on the road, those people who have gotten out there and made the switch are reaping the reward such as the $3,000+ per year that an individual driver saves in fuel and maintenance costs.

Commercial and private fleets are particularly well positioned to take advantage of the switch. Fleet drivers often follow regular routes, with a set schedule and a central dispatch—all ideal conditions, it turns out, for battery power. There are financial benefits too; over the seven-year lifetime of each fleet vehicle, operators could save $10,000 or more, despite the higher upfront price tag. In addition to a substantial decrease in fuel costs (up to 1/8th of the cost per km driven), electric cars require less maintenance, no oil changes and have less brake wear and tear. Fleet managers will also enjoy predictable, static electricity prices relative to the daily changes in gas or diesel prices.

Ninety Percent of Fleets Ready to Electrify

Of course, not every fleet is ready for an extension cord. For example, the electric eighteen wheeler has yet to hit the market. That said, a study by consultancy FleetCarma found that 90 percent of the vehicles in the fleets they assessed were EV-ready. This past July, fleet managers in Oregon gathered for a workshop to identify where electric vehicles would have the greatest benefit. They flagged predictable routes, short, regular trips, quiet, no-idling operations, and high-use vehicles.

The City of Vancouver is a local success story. Last year, electrics met 16 percent of the city’s new-vehicle needs. City Councillor Raymond Louie has said that they are ideal for the commutes of city staff, and there is an emerging business case for the cost savings.

Despite proven successes, and the business case for cost savings, barriers to adoption linger for many fleet managers. The upfront cost, range anxiety, lack of familiarity, and the limited number of models to choose from remain very real concerns.

Photo: Car2Go
Photo Credit : Car2Go

Barriers to EV Adoption Coming Down

Bit by bit, these barriers are coming down. As the market grows, vehicle costs continue to fall. The price of batteries—an EV’s most-expensive component—has fallen by 50 percent in the last four years, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance expects prices will halve again in the early 2020’s. As a cushion, until we hit that sweet spot, many governments are offering rebates. Ontario offers consumers $5,000 to $8,500 depending on the size of the battery pack. Similarly, Quebec’s rebate ranges from $5,000 to $8,000.

Boosted by incentives and lower battery costs automakers are introducing new battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle models every year. Soon full-size SUVs, pickup trucks and vans already available in other markets will come to Canada.

Fleet managers interested in integrating EVs now have access to a wider range of resources and support. Just over a year ago, the British Columbia government, along with California, Oregon and Washington, committed to pursue a goal that 10 percent of all new vehicles purchased for public or private fleets must be zero-emissions by 2016.

The goal might sound modest to some, but has potential to make a big impact if realized. In two years it would mean one in 10 vehicles purchased by provincial or local governments, or companies operating in the province, will emit no carbon pollution whatsoever. This would add about another 3,000 EVs beyond the 1,166 already roaming the province. We may soon be seeing electric vehicles everywhere—from taxis, to delivery vans, to carshares.

Electrify Your Fleet Workshop Coming to Vancouver

The Pacific Coast Collaborative, the partnership of West Coast governments overseeing the 10 percent fleet target, recently developed a toolkit that allows companies and governments to see how well electric vehicles would fit for them. It includes cost calculators, vehicle incentives, and resources on available fleet vehicles.

With falling costs, and a wealth of resources now available, it’s time for fleet managers to seriously consider adopting electric vehicles. To facilitate the next step, Clean Energy Canada and the Fraser Basin Council, in collaboration with Electric Mobility Canada, are presenting Electrify Your Fleet in Vancouver on October 27th, 2014 as part Electric Mobility Canada’s national EV2014VE conference.

We’ll have experts on hand for those keen to dive into the details of in fleets and electric vehicles. Speakers will dissect barriers to electric vehicle procurement, as well as the environmental and financial benefits of integrating zero-emission cars into existing fleets.

The government has taken the lead here with the 10 percent target. It’s up to the rest of us to pick up the ball and run with it, and reap the benefits electric vehicles can bring.

For more electric news check out Electrical Business Magazine

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