Fleet Management for Electric Cars - How to Stop Range Anxiety
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Are you tired of rising fuel costs and taxes on CO2 emissions? It might just be time to pull the plug on traditional vehicles and bring your fleet to the future by going electric.
Not only do electric vehicles cut down on operational costs and boost productivity, they're also environmentally friendly. But there’s one thing holding fleet managers back from completely integrating into a fully electric fleet — it's a little thing called range anxiety.
In this article, you will:
Learn about range anxiety and how to overcome it
Get a breakdown of the differences between hybrid and fully electric vehicles
Cover potential cost savings methods for managing electric vehicles
Explore new advancements in EV battery technology and their impact on the future
Learn how to build and maintain your EV fleet with Cartrack as your trusted fleet management partner
The future of electric vehicles
Managing an electric fleet that doesn’t require fuel to run is every fleet manager’s dream, right? However, despite growing interest, a 2019Kia Motors study found that 80% of fleet managers were held back from making the switch due to range anxiety — the fear of an EV not having enough charge to reach its destination during travel.
Although EVs have come a long way in terms of range, it's understandable that range anxiety remains a concern for many. But fear not, there are several measures you can take to ease any anxious feelings.
Let’s explore the facts and figures that come along with EV range anxiety and be range-assured.
The two types of electric vehicles
Electric fleets have been a trending topic recently, and we see why. These vehicles can be used in light-duty, medium/heavy-duty and even off-road applications. EVs can match or surpass their gas-fueled counterparts, plus they're quieter.
Electric vehicles (EVs) run on batteries and electric motors rather than petrol or diesel fuel like conventional vehicles. Electric vehicles come in two main types - battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
BEVs are powered entirely by electricity stored in batteries, while PHEVs feature both an electric motor and a regular petrol or diesel engine. Although PHEVs have a longer range than BEVs, they still produce emissions using their internal combustion engines.
When it comes to fleet management, it's important to consider which type of electric vehicle is the best fit for your needs. For example, if you're looking to go greenand save on fuel costs, a BEV might be the way to go, as they produce zero gas emissions.
However, if you need increased fuel efficiency and a longer range for certain tasks, a PHEV might be a better option. It's all about finding the right balance for your fleet’s needs.
How do electric vehicles work?
An electric vehicle's battery powers an electric motor, which turns the wheels to propel the car forward. When the battery is depleted, it needs to be recharged by plugging the car into an electrical outlet or charging station. The battery can be recharged using a standard household outlet, but it will take much longer than using a dedicated charging station.
One cool thing about EVs is that they can also recharge their batteries while driving. This happens when the driver applies the brakes, and the car converts the energy from slowing down into electricity to recharge the battery. This is calledregenerative braking.
Overcoming range anxiety
Let’s walk through one of the major challenges of electric vehicles — range anxiety.
With all the benefits that come along with this type of vehicle, fleet managers have grown worried about whether EVs can get the job done and not die on them in the process.
Simply put, range anxiety is the fear of whether EVs have enough energy stored to cover the distance of their journey. This growing EV anxiety seems to be the number one reason most fleets have not migrated to a fully electric fleet, plus the concern that the initial transition will be too costly for some businesses.
How did range anxiety start?
The fear of EVs was sparked when its primary models, despite being fully charged, showed a low mileage range. This created a poor reputation within the transportation industry.
Charging vehicles had to be considered before the EVs could hit the road to complete daily tasks, and drivers were often finding that they couldn’t get much more than 112 km from a fully charged battery, so the question is, “How often does the fleet have to pause production just to charge?”. The irregular mileage per full battery did worse for their already poor reputation.
Naturally, no fleet manager wants to stress about rescuing stranded drivers and retrieving broken-down corporate vehicles. But when it comes down to it, if you're thinking about going electric, should a lack of battery range be a significant concern? And what can you do to avoid it?
Improvements in EV battery technology
Since the first mode, EV batteries have been improved to last longer and charge faster. Here are the current stats on the estimated vehicle range of over 321 km on a few EVs:
Light commercial vehicles:
Nissan e-NV200 - up to 275 km
Renault Kangoo ZE - up to 200 km
Peugeot Partner Electric - up to 275 km
Citroen Berlingo Electric - up to 275 km
Mercedes-Benz eVito - up to 150 km
Tesla Semi - up to 800 km
Freightliner eCascadia - up to 400 km
Volvo VNR Electric - up to 240 km
Peterbilt 579EV - up to 320 km
Kenworth K270E and K370E - up to 240 km
Factors that impact EV range
A major factor in range anxiety was the lack of charging infrastructure, but in countries that struggle with power outages and power availability, such as South Africa, unfortunately, this strengthens EV anxiety.
Apart from South Africa’s load-shedding problem, countries like America have taken initiatives to build more charging stations to meet demand and motor companies like Ford have installed over 25,000 stations as well.
Besides resource availability, other factors that impact the EV range come down to three other major categories:
Driving behaviour: With traditional fuel vehicles, negative driving habits can reduce fuel economy, the same can be said about electric vehicles. Speeding, harsh braking, and quick acceleration all consume extra energy, resulting in less range and increased vehicle wear and tear.
Weather and vehicle temperatures: Temperature is one of the most reported causes of restricted range, however, it is frequently misunderstood. Lithium-ion batteries operate poorly in low conditions, but EVs have advanced battery thermal management systems that keep them at ideal temperatures. Some energy is consumed by these systems, but most of any range loss is caused by energy used by an air conditioner to heat up or cool down the vehicle's interior.
Longevity: Much like the batteries in our cellular devices, all rechargeable batteries eventually lose their ability to store their full energy potential, this reduction in durability is referred to as battery degradation. For an EV, this coincides with reduced range over time.
Fortunately, data shows that this decline in battery health is only 2.3% a year, simply meaning an EV with a 434 km range would have an effective range of around 363 km after about seven years.
Doesn’t data like this ease your fears about EV range? Below are additional ways to reduce range anxiety within your fleet.
What can be done to reduce range anxiety?
Buying electric vehicles can be a challenge, especially for businesses with range anxiety. But there are several ways you can ease this concern.
Optimise charging schedules to ensure EVs are job-ready at the start of every shift. Even fast-charging stations can take up to 30 minutes to fully power a standard electric vehicle, so understanding where charging stations are along scheduled routes and dedicating recharging times to assist with range anxiety is crucial. Driver training mentioned above also helps with sustaining energy by encouraging drivers to make appropriate use ofregenerative braking, which sends excess vehicle energy back to your EV’s batteries while you slow down, ensuring increased EV range as they drive.
3. Keeping vehicles well maintained
A thorough preventative maintenance routine keeps fleet operating expenses low. Maintaining proper tyre pressure in the case of EVs, for example, can help you get the most mileage out of each charge. Keeping your EV's tyres under-inflated can cause a significant decrease in mileage. Every one pound per square inch (PSI) decrease in tyre pressure leads to a 0.4% decrease in mileage. To maximise your EV's range, it's important to know the recommended PSI for your tyres and check them regularly, as tyre pressure can fluctuate by one PSI for every ten degrees Fahrenheit change in air temperature, therefore schedule tyre pressure inspections as the seasons change.
4. Support EV drivers with real-time data
Once drivers take their electric cars on the road, you’ll want to reassure them that they’re not alone. Monitoring vehicles' state of charge allows managers to prevent vehicles with low charges from running out of energy. Also, fleet managers can monitor EV charge levels and update routes to point drivers to nearby charging stations in case they need to reroute or recharge unexpectedly.
Maintenance costs of an electric fleet
As a fleet manager, it's important to consider the maintenance and cost of electric vehicles compared to traditional gasoline or diesel vehicles.
One major advantage of EVs is that they have fewer moving parts than traditional vehicles, which means less maintenance. For example, EVs don't need oil changes, spark plug replacements, or cam belts. Instead, regular maintenance for EVs includes:
Checking the battery's health
Which brings down their maintenance expenses to a minimum. So, what about fuel costs? EVs are generally cheaper to fuel than traditional vehicles since electricity is typically cheaper than petrol or diesel.
Sounds good so far, right?
But, there is one setback. When it comes to the upfront cost of purchasing EVs, they can be more expensive than traditional fuel vehicles, but some factors can decrease that cost. Many European countries, like the UK and France, offer incentives such as tax credits, rebates, low-emission zones (LMZ) and free parking spots for electric vehicles. Additionally, EVs have lower operating costs than traditional vehicles because of the cheaper price of electricity compared to gasoline, and their minimal maintenance due to fewer moving parts. All these factors can offset the running price over time and make EVs more cost-effective.
Fleet managers may need to invest in workplace charging stations, or use public charging spots. While private charging stations can involve some upfront costs, many public charging stations offer free charging, if not, fleet managers won't spend that much as the current cost of electricity is around R1.60 to R3.00 per kWh for commercial customers, much cheaper than current South African fuel prices per litre.
Charging options in EVs that ease range anxiety
Apart from the improvements made in batteries, there have also been developments in electric battery types.
Here are five recent developments in EV battery technology that fleet managers should put on their radar.
Solid-State Batteries: Solid-state batteries are a promising new technology that replaces the liquid electrolyte used in traditional lithium-ion batteries with a solid electrolyte. This makes the battery safer and more stable, with a longer lifespan and higher energy density. Companies like Toyota and Solid Power are currently working on developing solid-state batteries, with some expected to be ready for use in EVs in the next few years.
Silicon Anodes: Anodes are a key component of lithium-ion batteries, and recent research has shown that replacing the traditional graphite anode with one made of silicon could significantly increase energy density. Companies like Tesla, are currently working on developing silicon anodes, which could lead to EVs with longer ranges and shorter charging times.
Recycling: As EV production increases, so does the need for battery recycling to reduce waste and recover valuable materials like lithium and cobalt. Many companies, including Tesla and Volkswagen, have announced plans to build recycling facilities, and new technologies like hydrometallurgy and pyrometallurgy are being developed to make the process more efficient.
Battery Swapping: Battery swapping is a technology that allows drivers to exchange their depleted EV battery for a fully charged one at a charging station. This could potentially reduce charging times and increase the convenience of EV ownership.
Rapid Charging: Charging times for EVs are improving rapidly, with many new models able to charge to 80% in less than 30 minutes using fast-charging technology. Companies like Ionity, which is a joint venture between BMW, Ford, Volkswagen, and Daimler, are building a network of fast-charging stations across Europe to support long-distance EV travel.
There is no doubt that the future of EVs is bright, and as technology continues to improve, we can expect to see even more impressive advancements in the years to come.
How can a fleet management system help you get the most out of your electric vehicles?
Fleet management can help fleet managersby providing real-time data on vehicle performance, battery life, costs and more. Companies that provide complete fleet management solutions, like Cartrack, can help fleet managers understand vehicle insights and fully optimise their fleets.
Our battery management solution provides real-time monitoring of the battery's state of charge and temperature, allowing you to optimise battery life and prevent unexpected downtime.
Our fleet management platform and mobile app offer predictive analytics, which uses historical data and machine learning algorithms to predict when maintenance or replacement of the battery will be needed, reducing maintenance costs and ensuring the longevity of your vehicles.
Cartrack helps you stay compliant with local regulations and ensure your fleet meets sustainability goals. We offer support by informing you of how to take advantage of incentives and subsidies for the adoption of EVs. Many countries, like the USA, provide these incentives and promote the switch from fuel to electric vehicles.
Cartrack eases your range anxiety with smart reports. These reports display your speed while charging and our detailed trip reports show the energy consumed per trip. This information keeps you constantly updated on your range status and offers comprehensive reports through our fleet system so you no longer have to feel anxious about your EV’s range capabilities.
With Cartrack, you'll have access to all the tools and insights you need to manage your EV fleet efficiently and cost-effectively. Our personalised solutions are tailored to your specific needs, ensuring that you get the most out of your EV fleet. Experience the future of fleet management with Cartrack.
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