Author: Colin Sutherland, Geotab

For many reasons, EVs still present good value in the long term for fleets thinking about vehicle procurement. That’s because EVs have lower maintenance and operating costs than traditional internal combustion (ICE) vehicles, and EV batteries last a lot longer than you might expect. Plus, if the upfront costs are truly a barrier, the ongoing expansion of the used EV market can provide a more affordable solution.

1.   EVs help lower fleet maintenance costs

EVs don’t have the over 2,000 moving parts of an ICE vehicle, making maintenance easier and more cost effective. Data from Vincentric reveals a 47% average cost savings in maintenance of operating a battery electric vehicle (BEV) over an ICE vehicle in Canada, as reported by 2 Degrees Institute. Fewer parts equals less preventative maintenance scheduling and fewer part breakdown occurrences.

The regenerative braking system in an EV means that brakes will undergo less wear and tear with daily use. BC Hydro estimates that the brakes on an EV can last 300,000 km. In a March 2019 fleet newsletter on the reduced maintenance costs of EVs, the NYC DCAS Citywide Administrative Services cited brake pads as an example to demonstrate a “vast” extension in service intervals.

While they acknowledged that their fleet EVs had not completed a ten-year lifecycle, NYC Fleet wrote that “servicing costs with our all-electric vehicle models is dramatically less than with gas, hybrid, or hybrid plug-in models.”

With 1,800 on-road EVs, (including more than 200 all-electric Nissan Leafs and 300 all-electric Chevy Bolts), and over 600 off-road EV and solar units, New York City is considered a green fleet leader. Their sustainability initiatives also include electric charging stations, solar carports, emission reduction through biodiesel and renewable fuels and fleet right-sizing.

In the long run EVs will also save on fuelling costs – they are not only more efficient than ICEs (requiring less energy to run), electricity is less expensive (and prices less volatile) than gasoline. In fact, it costs less than half as much to fuel an EV, on average, in the U.S., according to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

2.   EV batteries last longer than you expect

A good deal of research has been done on battery health, but until now, data showing real-world battery performance in EVs over time has been much more difficult to find. The interactive EV battery degradation comparison tool allows fleets to compare the average battery degradation for different vehicle makes and model years. Based on an in-depth analysis of over 6,000 EVs, the tool assesses how battery performance holds up while taking into consideration real-world factors affecting EV battery health.

With access to 1.8 million days of anonymized telematics data processed by Geotab, the tool provides insight into how real-world conditions can influence EV battery health for 21 distinct vehicle models.

Two main takeaways from this study:

  • EV batteries deteriorate with age (as expected)
  • The vast majority of EV batteries will outlast the usable life of the vehicle (if observed degradation rates are maintained)

When looking at the average decline across all vehicles, the loss is relatively minor at 2.3% per year. Which means, if you purchase an EV today with a 150 mile range, you would lose about 17 miles of accessible range after five years, which is unlikely to impact your day-to-day needs.

 

 

Figure 1. Comparing the battery degradation levels for the Nissan Leaf model years 2013-2018

 

Understanding degradation rates and the impact temperature has on range will help fleet operators select the right EV for their unique needs.

 

3.   Used EV market is expanding

The results of Geotab’s Battery Degradation research shows that batteries can last beyond a fleet lifecycle. If upfront costs are a barrier, secondhand EVs allow an affordable solution. Used EVs can be found at great discounts, 43 to 72% lower than the cost of a new EV, according to an article from Edmunds. While not ideal for original EV owners, the generally low resale value for EVs means that most used electric vehicles are among the best deals available in the resale market today. However, this low residual value may be temporary as the market gains confidence in EV technology.

As the EV market matures, the number and selection of used EVs available for purchase improves daily. In addition to small passenger sedans, larger cars, vans and SUVs are beginning to emerge.

With a growing number of options appearing in the EV space, locking in on the best models for your fleet can be a daunting task. To help, Forbes offers insight into the best EV models to lease for the money, crowning the 2016-2017 Nissan Leaf and the 2017 Ford Focus Electric as the top picks.

Conclusion

Planning and forecasting for the future is a must for fleet operators, and EVs present good long-term value. With lower maintenance costs, longer lasting batteries and the ever-expanding used EV market, the time may be just right for fleet operators ready to take the next step toward electrifying their fleet. 

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