• Parag Diwan

Electric Vehicle Fleet Management

Commercial Fleets are Becoming Electric

For any country, proper and timely implementation of the rollout of Electric vehicles is important. India is no different. Given this, our policy think-tank NITI Aayog’s proposition is to introduce electric vehicles in all segments of transportation by 2030.

To influence public transportation, fleet electrification would play a major role in Electric Vehicle penetration. For fleets and aggregators, NITI Aayog has proposed to implement 40% Electric Vehicle by April 2026. By accelerating the growth of electric vehicles India plans to reduce its carbon emissions, fossil fuel dependency, pollution and to promote the use of renewable energy.

So, what is fleet management, and why it is so important?

Fleet Management is an administrative technique used by transportation companies worldwide to operate and control their vehicles. The main aim of fleet management is to reduce costs, improve operational efficiency, fine-tune dispatch of vehicles to meet customer needs, and make sure the company is working in compliance with government regulations. Fleet management is almost used in every industry such as Oil and Gas, Retail, Utilities, Service and Repair, Taxi Services, and many more. Usually designated personals are known as “Fleet Managers” are responsible for fleet management in any organization.

Fleet management deals with the entire value chain regarding fleets starting from

  • Financing of vehicles

  • Purchasing of vehicles

  • Fuel management

  • Vehicle route optimization

  • Dispatch scheduling

  • Consumer fulfillment

  • Setting up necessary metrics and achieving them

  • Driver management

  • Fleet safety and control

  • Maintenance of vehicle

  • Fleet up-gradation

Benefits of E-Vehicle fleet:

Transportation fleets (taxis, vans, trucks, and buses) are essential areas where the early-stage implementation of Electric Vehicles (EV) should be carried out. Fleet operators can be potential early adopters due to business necessities of reducing carbon footprint as well as operating costs. Due to the low operating cost of an EV, commercial and public utility vehicles have more compelling economics when compared with private / passenger-owned vehicles. Ergo, shared mobility actors, such as fleet operators / app-based aggregators, can lead and accelerate the EV penetration because they generate more km on their vehicles.

At present electric vehicles (EVs) are far out of reach of price-sensitive buyers, especially in India, but the usage of such vehicles by fleet operators will help in achieving economies of scale in the industry. “Right now, the break-even for electric cars applies more to cars that are used much more. The more you use the electric cars the better your payback” Says Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra.

For the purchase of an electric vehicle, it is important to look into the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). TCO is defined as the total cost of purchasing, running, and maintaining a vehicle over its lifetime (1,80,000 km, or 4 years in the case of a car operating in a fleet). It also takes into account the losses incurred due to the depreciation of the vehicle over its lifetime.

How e-vehicle fleets are different from traditional fleets?

The main difference between an e-vehicle and a traditional vehicle is that the time taken for re-fuelling. The charging time of an e-vehicle varies between 2 hours to 8 hours and it depends upon the type of charger used (slow, fast) and the size of the battery. But a traditional vehicle will require a maximum of 10 mins to refuel. This huge difference brings in a lot of problems for managing an electric vehicle fleet. Charging time creates an idle time which is a loss of opportunity.

Potential Problems faced by EV Fleets

Another major problem faced in countries like India is that the e-vehicles available in the market can travel only a limited distance even though if the vehicle is fully charged. This leads to another problem called “Range Anxiety” i.e., even after full charge e-vehicle covers a shorter distance. These two problems affect the performance of the e-vehicle fleet to a severe extent when compared to traditional vehicle fleets. By optimizing charging time, proper scheduling, and dispatching these problems can be reduced to a little extent but cannot be fully addressed. These problems are technology-related and will be addressed only if technology progress. Apart from this lack of proper charging infrastructure and lack of incentives from the government also affects e-vehicle fleets.

Examples of E-Vehicle fleets around the world:

Shenzhen e-bus fleet:

Often referred to as “Silicon Valley of Hardware” Shenzhen is a metropolis city, which is situated in the southeastern part of China and it connects Hong Kong to China’s mainland. This city is a forerunner in the implementation of electric vehicles. By the end of 2017, the Transport Commission of Shenzhen announced the complete electrification of buses in the city. Shenzhen Bus Company now manages the biggest e-vehicle bus fleet in the entire world with 16,000 e-buses. Generous subsidies by the state and central government helped Shenzhen Bus Company to achieve this feat. More than half of the upfront cost (cost incurred during purchase) was provided as a subsidy by the central government and state government subsidy was based on kilometers covered (If a bus covers 60,000 km the state government will award a subsidy of 500,000 yuan). The Shenzhen Bus Company procured most of their e-buses from BYD Auto which is a market leader in electric vehicle technology. The cost of each e-bus is around 1.8 million yuan. To manage the entire fleet Shenzhen Bus Company installed 40,000 charging piles in its 180 bus depots. The charging time for a bus is around 2 hours and it can cover 200 km on a single charge.

Shenzhen e-taxi fleet:

After electrifying the entire buses Shenzhen Government focused on electrifying the taxis in the city next. In January 2019, the Transportation Commission of Shenzhen announced on their official website that about 99% of taxis in Shenzhen have been electrified, which is about 21,000 taxis. BYD Auto played a major role in this transformation and it was highly subsidized by the Chinese Government. It is estimated that these cars would save about 856 thousand metric tonnes of carbon emission yearly.

FedEx e-vehicle fleet:

FedEx corporation of the USA has been using electric vehicles in its fleet since 2009. FedEx is one of the few early adopters of e-vehicles in its fleet. FedEx owns and operates about 2,554 electric vehicles in different segments such as forklifts, airport ground service equipment, and delivery trucks. By this year, FedEx plans to acquire 1000 more e-delivery trucks from California based manufacturer Chanje. These trucks when fully charged can travel a maximum distance of 150 miles and the company said it will be using those trucks for last-mile delivery. It also plans to add Tesla Semi trucks into its fleet in near future.

Uber London e-vehicle fleet:

Uber which is a taxi aggregator operated worldwide also took steps to electrify its fleet. As a part of the fleet, electrification plans Uber plans to electrify all its taxi operations in London by 2025. To financially support this initiative Uber is providing subsidies for its driver when they are purchasing electric vehicles. Uber has also increased the fare in London by about 15p a mile during 2019. By 2019, 40,000 drivers were registered under Uber and it plans to convert them fully electric by 2025. One of the major problems faced by Uber London is that there are no sufficient public charging stations to support this initiative.

Blu Smart Mobility:

Blu smart mobility is a startup based in Gurugram, India. It claims to operate India’s first all e-taxi fleet in and around Delhi NCR. As of 2020, Blu Smart operates around 150 e-cars in its fleet in the Delhi NCR region. Blu Smart uses Mahindra e-Verito in its fleets and unlike uber which is mainly an aggregator, Blu Smart owns its e-vehicles. To support this initiative Blu Smart has also installed around 9 charging stations around Delhi NCR. In the future, the company will increase its fleet size by 700 and will install around 65 charging stations around Delhi NCR.

Future of E-Vehicle fleets:

As discussed, e-vehicle has more potential when it is implemented in fleets. As fleets tend to travel more than personal vehicles. With Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) falling every year e-vehicles are becoming more and more attractive for fleet owners and when mass adoption of EVs happens in the fleet there will be a huge demand for e-vehicle fleet management. With so many potential paths opening up, businesses must gain clarity now over what their place in the ecosystem will be. This will involve doing the thinking to make sense of the coming disruption than moving into a design phase of developing business models, before coming to the ‘doing’ phase of scaling propositions up and developing enabling operating models to make them a viable reality.

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