UPS, GreenBiz study focuses on fleet electrification

Updated Jan 2, 2019

Ups Electric Van 300x198UPS recently announced a joint study with GreenBiz which takes a closer look at electric powertrains. Environmental benefits and lower cost of ownership are making EVs more attractive, but challenges remain.

The 2018 UPS and GreenBiz “Curve Ahead: The Future of Fleet Electrification” study presents the findings of qualitative research, along with an online survey conducted by GreenBiz Group in June 2018 among more than 200 respondents within the GreenBiz Intelligence Panel.

The top motivation to go electric for 83 percent of large businesses surveyed is sustainability and environmental goals. A lower total cost of ownership — factoring in both direct and indirect costs and savings over the life of the vehicle — is the second biggest driver, cited by 64 percent of respondents. In addition to the fuel savings, EVs typically require less maintenance than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, which means lower maintenance costs.

Despite an appetite for electrification, many fleet operators face challenges. Fifty-five percent of respondents cited the initial purchase price of electric commercial vehicles as the top barrier. Forty-four percent view inadequate onsite charging infrastructure as a barrier and 92 percent report their facility is not “very well equipped” to accommodate commercial charging needs. Yet the study also found less than half of the companies surveyed are working with governments or utilities to address charging infrastructure.

As the market for electric commercial vehicles matures, 70 percent of companies report working closely with vehicle manufacturers and suppliers to identify the latest electric vehicle technologies and features. This communication is important given 32 percent of survey respondents cited inadequate product availability as a barrier.

“The challenges of cost and infrastructure requirements can be daunting, but we’ve begun to see solutions emerge,” says Scott Phillippi, UPS senior director of automotive maintenance and engineering. “In the U.S., we recently ordered 50 electric-powered delivery trucks that we anticipate will be at cost parity with conventional diesel-powered vehicles. And in London, we were able to find a solution for our charging needs through a collaboration between government and private organizations.”

Fleet managers and industry experts interviewed suggested strategies to overcome challenges, including starting small. Instead of undertaking a large-scale fleet overhaul, many companies will prioritize electric options when replacing vehicles and even consider electric leasing options to mitigate the initial purchase price.

“Despite the complexity of transitioning commercial fleets to an electric future, the vehicle technologies and options to upgrade infrastructure are quickly improving,” says Paul Carp, GreenBiz Group’s director of research and senior analyst. “Continued industry collaboration will be critical to accelerate fleet electrification across a wide range of use cases.”

To read the full story on Successful Dealer’s sister publication Hard Working Trucks, CLICK HERE.

To ready the study, “Curve Ahead: The Future of Fleet Electrification,” CLICK HERE.

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