For Fleets, EV Adoption Is About Much More Than the Vehicle

November 2, 2021
Author: Lucas Lowden
Escalent | For Fleets EV Adoption Is About Much More Than the Vehicle

Without effective, efficient and nearly ubiquitous infrastructure support, fleet decision-makers’ interest in EVs won’t translate to adoption

Opportunity looms large in the fleet market for automakers and electric vehicle (EV) charging providers seeking to get an edge in the EV adoption race that appears to be heating up. Our latest Fleet Advisory HubTM research shows 57% of fleet decision-makers plan to replace their vehicles in the next three years—and an overwhelming majority of those (65%) are proactively shopping for EV solutions. Ramping up fleet usage is one of the pivotal cogs to spurring broader consumer adoption of EVs, thanks to the power of observability. This is a high-stakes competition, and winning won’t be easy.

For fleet owners and operators, forming an EV strategy is about much more than just the quality or capability of the vehicle itself. A host of factors are at play when commercially operating any vehicle—from cost to own and operate, to ways to maximize uptime or minimize downtime. These considerations can be the difference between success and failure of the business.

First, fleet decision-makers eyeing EVs must consider the costs associated with adopting charging platforms alongside their newly minted and electrified fleet. Such technology requires a heavy up-front cost to purchase and potentially long-term maintenance costs to preserve or replace the technology over time.

Our latest Fleet Advisory Hub study indicates paying for charging solutions tops their list of fleet decision-maker concerns:

  • 82% of adopters finance their private charging infrastructure and 68% of shoppers expect to
  • 32% of adopters report higher-than-expected private charging infrastructure costs
  • 29% of fleets allow employees to take and store vehicles at home, adding another layer of complexity for implementing a robust charging infrastructure

Fleet decision-makers must also grapple with unique use cases. Chief concerns include availability—or lack thereof—of public chargers and the inherent downtime associated with charging, especially compared to the ubiquity and immediacy of gas stations for most fleet drivers. The reliability of available gas stations is a big deal for many fleets, considering more than half (57%) of decision-makers operate fleets with variable routing patterns—a model that would require extensive usage data to ensure the smooth rollout of a viable electrified vehicle program.

Fleet decision-makers know these are significant hurdles and, to date, there is only a limited ecosystem of information and tools to work around them. Our study found that 42% of operators recognize these unique EV factors, however, they are not familiar enough with them to calculate their impact on the ever-critical total cost of ownership (TCO). This is extremely important for automakers and charging technology providers alike—according to a recent Fleet Advisory Hub™ study, total cost of ownership (TCO) is a leading factor influencing a fleet decision-makers’ adoption decisions.

Electrified product manufacturers and service providers must take a close look at these concerns—most of which have little to do with EVs themselves—and recognize the importance of addressing them in ways that cater to unique applications. A one-size-fits-all approach can’t, and won’t, inspire adoption of EV applications for fleets—further, it could cause frustration and defection from the technology or specific brands.

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Escalent | Lucas Lowden
Lucas Lowden
Insights Consultant, Automotive & Mobility

Innovation strategist and business analyst, Lucas has over 15 years of experience in market research and automotive. He is the program lead for Fleet Advisory Hub™—an innovative, cost effective way for companies to secure a substantial portion of their annual commercial and fleet vehicle insights. Lucas has spent significant time working with senior management to frame Escalent's automotive strategy around the next generation of research and consulting solutions. He also led the facilitation of a cross-functional team to develop Escalent's big data and IoT strategy, capabilities and partner network.