Frequently Asked Questions

Getting started and important steps

Here of course! The Fleet Electrification Solution Center is a free resource developed for all fleets. Whether you’re just getting started or have already deployed electric vehicles, this resource will walk you through all the steps to get your first electric vehicles deployed on the road and expand your electric fleet.

For fleets beginning the electrification journey: gather your team, go to Phase 1 Step 1 and continue through the steps in this resource.

If you’ve already gotten started, use the menu to find your next step in your fleet’s electrification journey.

If you’ve already deployed a pilot, jump to Step 10 to evaluate your project. Here, you’ll identify successes you’d like to replicate and challenges you’d like to address before you circle back to Phase 2 to expand your electric fleet.
Remember to create an account to save your progress.

Your goal in conducting a feasibility assessment will be to identify what’s possible for your fleet right now and determine which vehicles or routes to electrify first.

Jump to Phase 2 Step 3 of this resource for details on conducting a feasibility assessment.

The total cost of ownership estimates the cost of a vehicle over its lifespan in your fleet. TCO calculations include the cost of acquisition, fuel, repair, maintenance, registration and insurance, as well as cost offsets like grants and incentives. Conducting TCO calculations for an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle and a comparable electric vehicle (EV) will allow you to estimate the cost of operating these vehicles over their useful life in your fleet. While ICE vehicles typically have lower up-front purchase costs, calculating the TCO often demonstrates that EVs will have lower lifetime operating costs due to lower fuel costs and reduced maintenance.

Knowing the TCO equips you to make choices based on a long-term perspective. The TCO is an important element of your fleet’s feasibility assessment and the business case for electrification, which is outlined in Phase 3 Step 6 of this resource.

Start by collecting data on your fleet and duty cycles, and then go through Phase 2 Step 3 of this resource to determine which vehicles and routes are feasible for electrification.

Once you’ve identified vehicles and routes to electrify, you can run a TCO estimate by entering your vehicle, cost and use information into a TCO model to compare the cost of operating EV and ICE drive trains.

The following online tools provide TCO models:

Electric Vehicles

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center is a repository of knowledge about electric vehicles. This site’s “Electricity Basics” page is a good place to start.

EVs are available across all vehicle classes (1-8). The Zero-Emission Technology Inventory (ZETI) is a database that lists commercially available zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

Although EVs are available across all vehicle classes, not all routes and duty cycles can be electrified at this time. Create an account and go through the steps in this resource to do a feasibility analysis to determine which routes are possible with the technology available.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), powered entirely by electricity, have fewer moving parts than a typical internal combustion engine. There are no oil changes and no transmission that requires fluid. The battery, electric motor and electronics require little or no maintenance.

Medium- and heavy-duty original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will provide some technician training for your fleet or offer service and maintenance contracts for your vehicles

There are several different types of electric vehicle:

  • BEVs are battery electric vehicles and are powered entirely by electricity.
  • PHEVs are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. These vehicles pair a combustion engine with an electric motor to increase fuel efficiency.
  • FCEVs, or fuel cell electric vehicles, are hydrogen fueled. Hydrogen fuel is stored in a tank onboard the vehicle, which powers the vehicle’s motor by converting hydrogen into electricity. When considering FCEVs for your fleet, remember to research hydrogen fueling stations. If there are no fueling stations in your area, you will need to include the cost of importing hydrogen fuel and building storage/fueling infrastructure.

The Fleet Electrification Solution Center focuses on deploying BEVs for fleets.

In temperatures below 20ºF, AAA found that mileage range is reduced by potentially 10 to 40 percent. This is due to the use of the drive battery for heat, not due to battery degradation.

Storing the vehicle inside can help to reduce the effect of cold weather because the cab is warmer. Many EVs come with heated seats and steering wheels to reduce the cold weather effect on batteries.

EVs must pass the same strict safety standards that internal combustion (ICE) vehicles must meet. These standards include the following:

  • They are required to meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
  • They must all be crash tested like conventional vehicles are.
  • They have very strict electrical safety standards set by the Automotive Engineers and the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Working Council.
  • Charging stations must be certified by independent testing labs such as Underwriters Laboratories.

Learn more about EV safety at the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

Yes, fleets across the world are operating electric MHDVs.

Review the resources in Phase 1 to learn about existing MHDV deployments and existing case studies. You can also read about the North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s RunOnLess – Electric demonstration, which ran electric trucks in real-world applications on real routes, carrying real freight. Find more information on RunOnLess — Electric here.

Charging and Infrastructure

Electrifying your fleet will increase the electricity drawn from the grid. To meet this demand, the electric infrastructure must be upgraded, typically in two ways. Your utility may need to upgrade “to the meter” (TTM) or “utility side” infrastructure, such as power lines and transformers, to deliver this increase in electrical load. You will also need to procure “behind the meter” (BTM) or “customer side” infrastructure, such as electrical panels, inverters and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to charge your vehicles.

Many utilities have “Make Ready” programs that reduce the financial burden of building the required infrastructure upgrades. Make Ready programs and requirements differ by utility; some cover TTM costs, while others may also include some BTM charging and infrastructure costs.

See the “Working With Your Utility resource for best practices.

Public charging stations are often not practical for fleet needs, even if they meet the technical specifications for your EVs. You cannot guarantee access to a public charging station when your fleet vehicles require them, so relying on them could result in substantial interruptions to your operations.

The size of public charging stations is another factor to consider. At this time, most charging stations are physically designed for light-duty vehicles to pull into a parking space. Figure 20 in NACFE’s recent medium-duty box truck study demonstrates that a typical box truck cannot fit into a parking space and charging cables are not long enough to reach the charging port.

  • Networked or smart chargers communicate directly with the driver, the vehicle and the station owner.
  • Non-networked chargers, sometimes called stand-alone, do not have network access.

Non-networked chargers only charge one vehicle at a time. The charge will begin once the vehicle is plugged into the charger and continue charging until the vehicle’s battery is full, without regard for the time of day and peak electricity costs. If multiple vehicles share the same charger, the fleet will need to designate someone to manually switch out vehicles after each one has fully charged.

In contrast, a networked charger can remotely manage charging across multiple vehicles. Drivers can plug in vehicles after their shifts, and managed charging solutions can ensure that vehicles are charging outside of hours when peak electric costs are incurred. Managed charging can also limit your peak draw to minimize or avoid negative financial impact of demand charges on your fleet.

Networked chargers may also allow remote diagnostics, which is helpful in maintaining your charging stations and maximizing uptime.

Although fleets may save some money by selecting a non-networked charger, the benefits of networked chargers often bring cost savings beyond their subscription costs.

Energy management and fueling

Yes, your utility company should be a key partner as you electrify your fleet. Learn about best practices in the “Working With Your Utility” resource.

A demand charge is a part of your utility’s rate structure. Although demand charges are typically applied to your electricity bill based on your peak electricity draw in a given billing cycle, many utilities are offering demand charge alternatives, such as demand charge holidays or subscription rates. This is important for your company because fleets that charge many vehicles at the same time will see a spike in their peak electricity consumption. Consult the utility provider to select the correct rate structure to avoid increased demand charges.

See the “Working With Your Utility” resource for best practices on mitigating potential negative impacts from demand charges using managed charging, deploying DERs and selecting the correct rate structure.

The rate structure is the pricing structure your utility charges for electricity service and delivery. Rate structures typically vary, so it is important to consult your utility to understand their rate structure options and how those will affect your TCO when electrifying your fleet. See this fact sheet for details and read more in Phase 2 Step 3.

The rate structure you select can have a substantial impact on the cost of fueling your EVs. Talk with your utility about demand charges and to determine the best rate structure for your fleet. See this fact sheet for details and read more in Phase 2 Step 3.

For example, if your utility has time-of-use or off-peak electrical rates, managed charging can reduce your electricity use during peak hours. Doing so will reduce the cost of fueling your fleet, because it is cheaper to charge during off-peak hours. See the Working With Your Utility resource for more information on managed charging.

DERs include on-site solar, battery storage and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies. They may bring a number of benefits to your fleet, including power security, reducing infrastructure upgrade costs and reducing peak electricity draw. See the Working With Your Utility resource for more information on deploying DERs in your fleet.

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