How To Successfully Add Electric Vehicles To Your Existing Fleet
Electric vehicles are readily available for those transit agencies willing and able to take the plunge.
And the idea of an all-electric fleet sure is tempting, isn’t it?
A green PR bonanza that will build goodwill with your customers and community is always a plus for business, but is the juice worth the squeeze? You won’t want to charge your customers anymore for your decision to go electric and you certainly can’t encounter any service shortcomings because of the transition.
So how can you incorporate electric vehicles seamlessly into your fleet without disrupting your current service offerings? Here are a few tips.
Add Charging Stations To Your Roadmaps
Of course, when it comes to electric vehicles, a huge concern for any transit agency is keeping them charged. It’s expensive to install charging stations at your HQ and you need to factor in the increased utility bills.
After all — plugging your EVs in at the end of the day at your own lot is the easiest way to keep them safe and charge them up for the next day’s route. Drivers using EV will need to know where they can get a charge and these stations aren’t as readily available as gas stations.
Finding a charging station often will also result in longer trips. And what about the time to charge? Recharging your EV is a much longer process than refilling a gas tank.
The good news is that if you have a mapping platform as part of your transit agency’s NEMT software, you can add charging stations into your system. This helps your drivers find charging stations that make sense to utilize regularly as well as understand where they need to go should their battery run low.
Avoid Service Disruptions
While implementing a big change like electric vehicles is certainly exciting, it shouldn’t cause any disruptions to your current service offerings. This means you need to prioritize your customers and service — maintaining your schedule, providing timely pick-ups and drop-offs, and staying up-to-date with your existing fleet’s maintenance — while you introduce electric vehicles to your fleet.
But you don’t want to ruin the excitement over your EVs by encountering delays, missing rides, etc. You need to carefully add EVs to your fleet and seamlessly integrate them into your service without sacrificing quality.
This means taking care of your budget — you may not be able to utilize EVs if it means reallocating approved budgets. In most cases, your expenses will increase the first few years due to capital expenditures. While you’ll hopefully make this money up in the long run, it is a short-term loss you’ll need to plan for.
Make A Smart Plan
How do you add electric vehicles to your fleet without causing any disruptions? Creating a smart plan and adding vehicles over time is the key to success.
Making wholesale changes immediately and replacing your entire gas-powered fleet with EVs overnight is risky and not recommended. T
You should create a plan to phase in EVs over the course of several years. Get your drivers, customers, and team members used to the new vehicles over time and assign them to specific routes to start.
Gather feedback on this initial testing phase and then add more when you learn what works and what doesn’t. EVs require different maintenance and knowledge than gas-powered vehicles, so you also need to find partners to service your new vehicles. You should look to track your power usage and costs to see if this shift is actually saving your company any money.
The bottom line is there’s a lot that goes into the process of adding electric vehicles to your fleet. Don’t rush it or things will surely go wrong!
Take your time, make a plan, and slowly roll out your EVs.
As you can see, introducing electric vehicles to your transit agency is not as simple as buying a car online. You need to carefully make a plan, put new systems and people in place, and gather driver and customer feedback to ensure you’re adding your new vehicles seamlessly.
While most riders can get behind the idea of electric vehicles, what they really care about is getting where they need to go on time, every time. As long as you’re taking care of your customers first, you can slowly roll out EVs, provided of course it makes sense for your budget.
Need help crunching those numbers or managing your billing, scheduling, dispatching, and more? TripMaster is here to help. Get in touch with us today to see what NEMT software can do for your transit agency as you consider adding electric vehicles to your fleet.