With any major technological change, large-scale transformation only comes after years of small-scale shifts gain enough momentum to take off. Such is the case with electric vehicles (EVs) in today’s economy. As manufacturers and policymakers work to push EV adoption toward critical mass, EV fleets represent one of the final frontiers of change. A movement that’s already progressing quickly could accelerate at lightning speed as more companies opt to electrify their commercial fleets.
With global brands as notable as Amazon, FedEx and AT&T committing to fleet electrification, it’s time for more to seize the moment and plan for electrification by preparing for a new kind of take-home vehicle program.
The benefits outweigh the challenges of electrifying your flee
At this stage in the EV transition, the benefits for fleets are becoming increasingly clear. McKinsey and Company reported that light-duty electric vehicles have already achieved parity with their gas counterparts in terms of total cost of ownership (TCO), largely thanks to major tax incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act. Medium-duty trucks are expected to follow in 2025, with heavy-duty trucks catching up by the end of the decade. Looking even further ahead, EV fleets promise to outperform gas-powered ones, especially given their lower maintenance costs and electricity’s consistent resistance to major price fluctuations compared to crude oil.
The benefits of electrification go far beyond its potential immediate financial return. Such a program can help accelerate corporate sustainability initiatives and bolster decarbonization efforts. Thanks to the sheer size of commercial fleets, going electric at this scale produces outsized emissions reductions. Government policies are already leaning in this direction, as indicated by the Zero-Emission Government Fleet Declaration in 2022, so corporations are wise to follow suit sooner rather than later.
Plus, the sooner companies adopt electric fleets, the sharper their edge in a competitive market. Consumers have made no secret of their intentions to push corporations toward greener policies, and two-thirds of employees favor working for brands with strong sustainability initiatives. Companies that choose electric will attract the most eager of these eco-conscious workers and customers in the near term, and this will create a more engaged, satisfied workforce.
Further, when electrification comes with corporate support for an at-home charging program, employees can take advantage of charging during off-peak rates to further widen the gap between electricity and gasoline.
4 key considerations for a take-home EV program
Despite the evident rewards of fleet electrification, many companies still encounter significant barriers that slow them on the road to adoption. Namely, the logistics of executing a take-home vehicle program for an electric fleet can seem daunting to sort out.
Take-home programs for traditional fleets were relatively easy to manage. Whether employees needed to keep vehicles for short or long runs, they could easily refuel when needed and pay with a company card or submit receipts for reimbursement. Electric vehicles require a radically different approach, given the time involved in charging, the sparse (but growing) availability of fast-charging stations, and the still-improving battery technology powering EVs.
As significant as these barriers are, however, they need not be roadblocks to creating an EV fleet. When weighing the challenges of a take-home EV fleet program, fleet managers must consider four critical elements.
1. Employee charging access
Access to charging presents the biggest hurdle to overcome when considering a take-home vehicle program for an electric fleet. Where employees could once easily refuel a light-duty commercial vehicle at the nearest gas station, they now need a place to charge when they bring their car home.
This becomes especially difficult if you have a significant number of workers who live in apartments or condos. They may need permission to install charging equipment, and their landlords might prohibit it. In these cases, you may need to rely on a combination of office- or depot-based charging with Level 2 or Level 3 charging sessions on the go, as this wouldn’t require any added equipment for these employees.
For workers who own their own homes, this barrier isn’t nearly as significant as it may seem. Still, you should conduct a little research to find out whether they have access to a garage and what their existing electrical setup is to determine the feasibility of installation and the costs involved.
2. The needs of your fleet
In conjunction with home charging concerns, you should also consider the broader needs of your fleet before you go electric. Understanding not only the kind of charging your employees can do but also how frequently they’ll need to do it is important for how you structure your take-vehicle program.
For example, typical driving distance is a key factor that should inform decisions about the types of vehicles and charging equipment in which you will invest. A fleet of vehicles meant for short, in-town work calls will be much different than one that needs to transport large deliveries over a longer distance. Finding the optimal type of vehicle for your fleet is especially important for maximizing EV efficiency.
Light-duty commercial EVs also offer radically different battery ranges and charging times. If you want to minimize the amount of home charging equipment you need to purchase for employees, consider opting for vehicles that won’t need to charge as frequently or for as long.
3. Charger purchase and installation
Level 2 home charging stations offer the best solution for take-home vehicle fleets. Although some employees may already have their own station or be planning to install one for their own EV, many will balk at the idea of purchasing their own station for a work vehicle. As a result, fleet managers should consider charging station purchase and installation as built-in costs of fleet electrification.
In general, Level 2 chargers, will require dedicated 240-volt connections. However, fleet managers must also account for significant cost reductions available through the Inflation Reduction Act—such as up to $7,500 per vehicle and 30% of charging station costs—that can substantially reduce the costs of electrifying commercial fleets.
If you still hesitate at the idea of paying to install a charger for an employee who might leave in the near future, consider a more portable installation. Rather than hardwiring the chargers, you can have electricians set them up with a NEMA 14-50 plug. That way, when an employee moves on, you can move the charger to another location.
4. Tracking and reimbursing charging costs
Finally, there are important considerations in terms of how fleet managers will pay for the electricity to charge vehicles. Your preferred setup will further inform decisions about the types of vehicles and charging equipment that will best fit your take-home program.
Essentially, you have three choices for how to track costs and reimburse employees:
- Install dedicated meters: A dedicated meter can track electricity used for charging if costs are to be set for a specific vehicle or driver. However, this will present problems if employees use the chargers for other vehicles.
- Install smart charging stations: Smart, networked chargers like the JuiceBox home charging station can track electricity use for reimbursement. The same limitations apply for employees with their own home charging needs, however, and employees in condos or other multifamily housing may be limited in terms of charging network.
Whichever method you use, be sure you can get time-stamped data for charging sessions. Since electricity costs may vary by time of day or over the course of a year, reimbursements should match the employee’s cost at the time they charged the company car.
Making a take-home vehicle program work for your EV fleet
Take-home charging is a key consideration for any company that wants to electrify its fleet, but it can seem daunting to sort through the logistics. If you’re getting twisted up trying to weigh the costs of converting your fleet, there’s no need to worry.
Enel X Way offers clean fleet solutions to help you plan for electrification and sort out the details of a take-home vehicle program. We’ve helped Fortune 1000s and fleet management companies in industries as diverse as transportation, telecommunications and utilities go electric and deploy charging solutions for their fleets.
With Enel X Way’s smart EV fleet charging program, you can rapidly deploy our industry-leading JuiceBox chargers at your employees’ homes and combine them with Level 2 or Level 3 fast-charging solutions at the workplace or fleet depot. These smart chargers offer all the control and data tracking you need to manage your fleet, whether near or far. We’ll help you design the program, install your chargers and manage ongoing operations for your fleet. Our turnkey solutions are designed to engage employees and keep fleet management costs under control.
Reach out today to learn more about how Enel X Way’s fleet solutions can help you take the next step toward sustainability.