Every fleet has overcome the diverse challenges when itcomes to transitioning to EVs.  -  Photo: AF

Every fleet has overcome the diverse challenges when itcomes to transitioning to EVs.

Photo: AF

Every fleet manager's story differs when transitioning to electric vehicles. While they come from different industries or use different vehicles, there is always information to be learned from sharing stories.

SuYvonne Bell, senior manager of U.S. fleet operations at Gilead Sciences, a research-based biopharmaceutical company, shared her stories and early lessons learned in the company’s electrification journey.

Gilead’s Progress Toward Electrification

The company is committed to electrifying its global fleet by 2030. It is a member of EV100, a global initiative bringing together forward-looking companies committed to accelerating the transition to electric vehicles.

In November 2023, Gilead Sciences launched its EV Pilot Program, placing approximately 10% of field-based employees in pure electric vehicles.

The journey started with input from sales leadership and the fleet governance committee, comprised of key stakeholders in legal, HR, and other departments.

The company chose one model, the Volvo XC40 Recharge, for the pilot. One vehicle model was chosen to gain enough apples-to-apples data for better vehicle and driver performance and duty cycle analyses.

The drivers were also already familiar with the brand, with the Volvo XC60 already on the selector for field leadership.

“The XC40 Recharge was an addition at the (sales) rep level,” Bell said. “The Volvo is considered a premium option. Fleet operations appreciates Volvo prioritizing passenger safety as a leading safe vehicle manufacturer. So that was a win/win.”

Another motivator was Volvo’s partnership with Tesla to use its charging network, which opens greater access to public charging.

Gilead Sciences chose a single model, the Volvo XC40 Recharge, for its EV pilot. Using only one model will allow Gilead to gain enough apples-to-apples data for better vehicle and driver performance and duty cycle analyses.  -  Photo: Gilead Sciences

Gilead Sciences chose a single model, the Volvo XC40 Recharge, for its EV pilot. Using only one model will allow Gilead to gain enough apples-to-apples data for better vehicle and driver performance and duty cycle analyses.

Photo: Gilead Sciences

Challenges and Solutions for Sustainability

Bell conducted a driver survey prioritizing employee’s ability to accept a company provided level 2 home charger, public charger access, and territory size.

“The goal was to ensure that each driver's unique circumstances were considered, offering a tailored approach to electrification,” she said.

During Gilead Sciences’ electrification journey, unexpected challenges arose, including:

  • Diverse landscapes nationwide.
  • Varying regulations.
  • Rebates.
  • Utility costs.
  • Infrastructure.

Overcoming Electrification Barriers

The program incentivized driver participation by providing Level 2 home chargers and installations. For those drivers able to install a home charger, using either the fleet vendor’s provider or sourcing their own local installer, most installation cost were reasonable.

Bell’s fleet vendor offers drivers access to public charging via an RFID card compatible with public charging companies such as EVGo and ChargePoint.

However, she is sourcing and would like to to expand access to public charger stations that offer level 3 DC fast chargers such as Electrify America’s Level 3 charger network, which provides a full charge in 45 minutes to an hour.

Bell stressed that flexibility is important in any fleet journey.

“We continue to approach each challenge and provide innovative solutions to benefit those participating in the EV Pilot Program to overcome barriers," Bell said.

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About the author
Hillary Weiss

Hillary Weiss

Senior Editor

Hillary Weiss is a former senior editor at Bobit. She has a decade of digital publishing experience and a passion for all things related to fleets.

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