The company's EV pilot launched in early 2022, with the first vehicle deployment in the Los...

The company's EV pilot launched in early 2022, with the first vehicle deployment in the Los Angeles area.

Photo: Cintas

Cintas Corporation announced on Dec. 16 the launch of its electric vehicle pilot program, which includes almost 20 vehicles from multiple manufacturers. The program started earlier this year in the Los Angeles area.

Seventeen different vehicles from five manufacturers are — or have been — included in the pilot, with additional units in Cincinnati, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.

“Our ability to remove vehicles powered by fossil fuels from our fleet and introduce vehicles that run on renewable or alternative fuels will be an important factor in our ability to achieve our Net Zero ambition and reduce our carbon emissions intensity,” said Christy Nageleisen, Cintas VP of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) and chief compliance officer. “When we meet with employee-partners in the field, the EV pilot program is always near the top of their interests. There’s a lot of excitement and anticipation throughout the organization about our EV program, and we’re eager to see how these pilot vehicles perform while out in service and running our routes.”

Through the pilot program, Cintas will evaluate the performance, durability, and reliability of various EVs in a variety of business, weather, and road conditions. Using the vehicles in real-world conditions is intended to help the company better understand the expectations, benefits, and potential challenges of EVs in its unique route-based business, according to its announcement.

“When we originally decided to pilot the (electric) vehicles, we wanted to test markets that were cold, hot, that had snow – that had all the different weather conditions – so that we ensured we got the right vehicle for the right industry,” said Mark Bolen, Cintas VP of quality and engineering. “Up until this point, the technology wasn’t out there to start a program like this. Over the last two or three years, they’ve really come along to where the technology’s there.”

EV Evaluation in Action

Cintas’ fleet department works closely with various OEMs to identify additional opportunities, new technologies, and future use cases, to maximize the effectiveness and performance of EVs in the pilot program, the company said. 

“We are constantly talking to our vendors, meeting weekly on conference calls, sharing information, then our team – the fleet team – actually has phone calls with our operations to understand exactly what’s transpiring throughout the week,” Bolen said. “We’re making sure the vehicle is performing where we want it to, and then we’re constantly making that range go out a little bit further, and a little bit further, a little bit further.”

Future Plans

Heading into 2023, Cintas plans to procure and deploy additional EVs spanning different vehicle models, including various light-, medium-, and heavy-duty units, and expects to grow the pilot program in both quantity and scope. It plans to acquire as many as 50 additional units in the next calendar year.

Additional grant funding has already been secured through different government initiatives to support its program and test additional models, according to the announcement. 

Cintas leaders are monitoring developments in other types of alternate-fuel vehicles as well. The company aims to achieve Net Zero GHG emissions by 2050.

Cintas operates one of the largest corporate fleets in North America, with almost 14,000 commercial vehicles deployed throughout the United States and Canada. 

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