I’ve always been curious about alternative fuels and their value proposition. The possibility to eventually substitute oil, even partly, has been a subject of high tech and innovation – so naturally, as an engineer and an enthused problem solver, I quickly became attracted to this whole theme.
It wasn’t until the legendary oil embargo, in ‘73, that the world took the call to action to explore ways to overcome oil dependency. Electric vehicles (EVs), which, by the way, were introduced more than 100 years ago, have posed hope to resist our thirst for gas. But it has taken us the same 100 years to begin believing, and perhaps accepting, its utility.
In the early 1900s, when cities dealt with unusual issues, like malodorous environmental challenges from animal dung, London had an estimated 300,000 horses around the city center leaving behind rivers of muck and high exposure to diseases. An article from The Economist called, “Breaking the habit – the future of oil,” describes the first international urban-planning conference, held in New York in 1898, where manure was at the top of their agenda. No remedies could be found, and the disappointed delegates returned home a week early.
Nevertheless, it took less than 15 years to get rid of such stinking intricacy. Per the article, by 1912, cars in New York outnumbered horses, and in 1917 the last horse-drawn streetcar was retired in Manhattan. That moment of progress, however, marked the inception of our global dependence on oil. We needed gasoline badly.
The EV value proposition has enjoyed an obstinate trend for the past few years. The convergence of environmental awareness, tech innovation, consumer assent, regulatory-conscious states and unions, investments by auto manufacturers, and financial viability are all together paving the road for EVs.
Even still, EVs are beset with challenges lacking commonly accepted range values, and battery sets still somewhat costly. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimated that the cost of an EV battery has reduced by at least a third in the last six years ($273/kWh in 2016, compared to $1,000/kWh in 2010). The same report implies that $100/kWh is the price point at which EVs will reach true cost parity with ICEs (internal combustion engine vehicles). That should happen in the next year or two.
There are many considerations for fleet managers in giving shape to their fleets. With technology advancements, consumer appetite and the regulatory forces in play, practical choices are emerging for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). Some countries and cities have placed restrictions on future sales of ICEs.
Here are some of the myths I’ve heard, and the truths behind them:
Myth #1: There aren’t enough EVs to choose from.
While it’s true that there are many more choices for gas or diesel engines, the collection of EVs is increasing every year. For the 2018 model year, there were 58 EV and PHEVs available, and another 49 for 2019. And that number continues to grow. In fact, global EV stock is projected to be 13 million vehicles by 2020, presenting buyers with additional options.
The adoption of EVs is still largely driven by the policy environment. Effective policy measures have proven instrumental in making EVs more appealing to private individuals and businesses, which has encouraged manufacturers to scale up production.
Myth #2: EVs are too expensive.
It’s too early to tell the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a fleet EV in the United States, due to a lack of data. But LeasePlan Consultancy Services has shown that there are affordable electric options available today. And some of those options are offered in the United States.
Additionally, a 2018 study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that EVs cost less than half as much to operate as gas-powered cars. The average cost to operate an EV in the United States is $485 per year, while the average for a gasoline-powered vehicle is $1,117.
Myth #3: The range isn’t high enough, which gives me anxiety.
The average all-electric battery range of current EVs (minus Tesla) is about 140 miles, while a few luxury models have ranges up to 335 miles. However, it obviously varies greatly. But, the good news is, as technology advances, the battery range follows suit. Since 2013, the estimated range for many EVs has increased significantly. For example, base models of the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S grew from 75 and 208 miles per charge in 2013 to about 107 and up to 249 miles in 2017, respectively.
There’s a mindset change that’s necessary when driving an EV. It requires you to plan ahead and ask yourself some questions before you leave the house. How far am I driving today? Will there be a charging station near my destination? Can I charge it at home? There are even apps that can help drivers find the nearest charging station, so that should help ease range anxiety as well.
Myth #4: There aren’t enough charging stations.
It might surprise you, but most EV charging takes place at home. At a Level 1 that can be plugged into a standard 110v electrical outlet this is the easiest, albeit slowest, way to charge your vehicle. But if you’re impatient like me, you can install a Level 2 charger at your home to charge up much faster. If you’re out and about, there are more than 20,000 charging stations in the United States. As demand, policy changes and incentives for the infrastructure increases, the number of charging stations will only continue to grow.
Myth #5: I don’t know anything about electric vehicles.
Well, you’re in luck! Use our eBook to learn all about EVs. From the definition of an EV, to current and future supply, to “fuel efficiency” and zero emissions, to charging types and infrastructure, this eBook has it all. Start learning about EVs now by downloading the eBook, It’s electric! The future of EVs in America.
And if it piques your interest and you want even more information, please contact us. We’ve got the right instruments and toolset to evaluate if it’s the right time for you to switch to EVs for your fleet, even partly. In reality, it’s not for everyone right now. We can help you determine the right vehicle for your fleet’s needs, aid in lowering your fleet’s CO2 emissions, and support your drivers in the transition to EVs. It’s all here.
At LeasePlan, we’re going to be early adopters of EVs. LeasePlan’s own employee fleet is currently going electric, making us the first major leasing company to make the switch, by 2021. That way, we can implement EVs, and while learning from it, help you do the same for your fleet. I, for one, am thrilled about driving an EV!
About the author
As executive vice president of transformation at LeasePlan USA, Smolka is leading the strategy to drive modernization and innovation across the U.S. subsidiary and launch the company further into its journey to deliver what’s next for fleet, mobility and connected vehicles. Smolka’s career has consistently revolved around digital transformation, developing cutting-edge technologies and leveraging the power of big data to create and deliver value. With a strong history of successes, Smolka is a proven leader poised to transform the fleet industry. Smolka has an MBA from Emory Goizueta Business School.