One difficulty with a global sustainability program is aligning governmental mandates with OEM product availability.
Many fleets operate a mix of light, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The fleet, as a whole, is judged on its sustainability, but many products do not offer a green alternative.
“One challenge has been getting the OEMs to provide ‘green’ vehicles in medium/heavy duty range,” said Jim Bigelow, senior director, enterprise fleet for Cox Enterprises. “It is a challenge in getting them to understand that this lack of product availability is hindering us from meeting our green goals.”
The limited number of vehicle segments that are battery-powered was cited by other fleet managers as the reason why their EV adoption rate is constrained.
“The majority of our fleet is medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Until there is a solution in this space that is cost-neutral to our organization, I don’t believe EVs will fit our needs,” said Amy McAdams, director of fleet for MORSCO.
Recent announcements by different automakers about future product plans indicate that there will be a wider availability of alternative-fuel powertrain options in the coming years.
“Manufacturers are moving their businesses to more ecological and more electric solutions so fleet managers (and their companies) will soon no longer be able to use the manufacturers’ lack of product as a rationale for fossil fuel vehicles anymore; and costs will climb. Product will be there, and fleet will need to understand how to choose the right solution,” said Michael Bieger, global fleet manager at Catholic Relief Services. “Sustainability initiatives are especially challenging for the NGO world as infrastructure support for electric vehicles, in the areas that we operate, are not as widespread as in Europe or the U.S. So great care needs to be taken to balance sustainability with the need to successfully deliver services.”
Implementation of alt-fuel vehicles in nationally dispersed fleets will continue to be challenging due to regional variances in incentives, rebates, and product availability on a national basis.
“If you get past the budget concerns, policy issues surface, particularly if you are considering implementation of EVs,” said Sheri Hardesty, global fleet leader at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). “We are entering uncharted territory. How do you charge employees for their personal consumption of electricity in their EV or reimburse them for charging at home or elsewhere? If your company is really progressive and implements workplace charging stations, how do you allocate or align their usage?”
Many fleet managers whose corporation have made a commitment to increase the number of EVs in fleet operation are struggling to meet corporate targets due to costs.
“It is a challenge to find an affordable means of introducing more electric and hybrid vehicles types into the current fleet profile,” said a fleet manager who wished to remain anonymous.
All fleet managers say that alternative-fuel vehicle selection is very difficult, even though more alternative-fuel vehicles are offered every year.
The reason for the difficulty is that the entry price points are still higher than the gasoline comparable model.
“The company wants fleet to demonstrate a favorable ROI of alternative-fuel vehicles, when comparing them to their gasoline comparable. This is very difficult to do with the premium entry-level price charged for alternative-fuel vehicle, which creates a price gap between the two,” said another fleet manager who wished to be unnamed.