Fleets become gateway for electric vehicle adoption In North America

Nov. 9, 2011

The most important decision a fleet manager makes is what vehicle to buy.

It is a decision that sets them on one of two paths: one that eventually leads to lower costs, lower fuel consumption and higher utilization rates or, one that leads to budget overruns, downtime and frustration, according to Matt Stevens, CEO of CrossChasm Technologies, parent company of FleetCarma.

Between rising fuel prices and shrinking budgets, the decisions are harder and the stakes are higher. Add new vehicle technologies, such as plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles, and in some cases emissions reduction targets, and these decisions become even more complex.

A recent survey conducted by Frost and Sullivan indicated that 81% of fleet managers expect to purchase more efficient vehicles in the future. However, the majority of fleet managers participating in the survey stated that costs, range capabilities and charging times were their main concerns surrounding electric vehicles (EVs).

Fleets hold the promise of becoming a vital gateway to broad EV adoption in the North American marketplace, says Stevens.

Fleets have different buying behaviors and circumstances than individual consumers, he points out. They more rigorously evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of vehicles than consumer buyers. Fleets also have higher utilization rates, which translate to quicker payback from the fuel savings offered by EVs.

Yet despite the economic and greening advantages EVs offer fleet operators, fleet managers remain justifiably concerned about integrating these vehicles into their portfolio, he says. EVs need to do the job and they need to be a smart investment.

And, since real world fuel economy for EVs is much more sensitive to driving patterns and duty cycles than conventional vehicles, the historical window sticker fuel economy ratings do not provide fleet managers with reliable TCO calculations, he goes on. Real world mileage may vary greatly.

New solution

A new solution from FleetCarma - which accurately assessing the full lifecycle costs of next generation vehicle adoption - takes the guess work out of calculating TCO.

“The official launch of FleetCarma comes just in time for the role out of plug-in electric vehicles from the major automotive manufacturers” says Stevens. “We have really worked hard to listen to fleet managers throughout development process of the FleetCarma solution and to make sure we launched a product that would be user-friendly and enable them to act.”

Stevens holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering is the co-founder of FleetCarma’s parent company, CrossChasm Technologies which provides hybrid and electric vehicle consulting services to top-tier clients such as General Motors and Magna.

Useful data

The FleetCarma service provides reliable TCO intelligence because it uses data obtained from the current fleet vehicle to determine the best replacement vehicle, he explains. The reports produced for fleet managers provide accurate total cost breakdowns, fuel consumption charts and emissions calculations for each year of the vehicle’s service life.

“FleetCarma is the first and only data-driven method for helping fleets go green, pragmatically and cost effectively,” he says.

“The FleetCarma process involves clipping a small data logger, the size of your thumb, into the diagnostics port on the fleet vehicle soon to be replaced. Over three weeks the logger learns that particular vehicle’s usage pattern and the data are uploaded to FleetCarma servers.

“Over 4 million data points are analyzed per day for each vehicle decision, sorting them all to clearly answer two key questions: 1. Can the plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle do the job?, and 2. Will it save the fleet money?”

Fleet managers wanting to trial this new tool for vehicle selection, can sign up for a free trial with FleetCarma using the promo code GOINGEV at www.fleetcarma.com/offer.

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