Role of education in fleet electrification
As EVs become more mainstream, there is an increase in demand for education in fleet electrification for fleet managers and drivers. The topics which require urgent effort to educate fleet managers can be categorised as EV assessment issues, EV range issues, charging time issues, battery degradation issues, TCO, and maintenance and repair of different types of EV fleets. There are four main facets by which fleet managers and drivers can be educated. These include:
- Pilot programs
- Free trials
When lessons are provided for education about a particular topic, they may be referred to as courses. In the current era, these lessons can be face-to-face, online or through an online recorded version of the topic. Courses are instrumental to fleet managers’ understanding of the challenges in adopting EV fleets. Some TSPs and EV suppliers offer courses and online training material that fleet managers and drivers could utilise to increase their EV knowledge and understanding.
Some of the online training materials provided by mainstream companies are listed below;
- Geotab has launched its fleet electrification knowledge centre in which fleet electrification challenges, benefits and opportunities are highlighted.
- The Association of Fleet Professionals offers a training program designed to increase fleet managers’ knowledge.
To facilitate local authorities there are also knowledge databases in form of repositories. In this regard, New Electric Vehicle Insight and Strategy (NEVIS) developed by an Energy consultancy firm in the UK provides up-to-date guidance and information on EV infrastructure and electric vehicles Launched on 26th January 2023, this repository aims to provide Wikipedia-style searchable articles, videos and images. Information could be found for Local Authorities in the UK for EV-interested companies in major steps of electrification. Information is provided for the following steps for fleet electrification.
It is the need of the hour to have online free libraries which can be accessed by fleet managers to understand the complexity of each step of fleet electrification. These can provide free access to articles related to problems, and solutions coupled with supporting videos and images.
The Office of Energy efficiency and renewable energy in the USA provides certification for fleet managers on the following topics.
- EV infrastructure
- EV TCO
- EV technology
- Driving electric vehicles
While attending certificate classes and seminars, fleet managers can develop an effective network as well. This network could help them understand more about the problems related to fleet electrification and potential solutions to these challenges.
Although, quality online courses for education in fleet electrification are not abundant, yet, there are online courses that offer robust knowledge of the charging needs of the different types of EV fleets. For example, a course at Udemy can help managers understand different types of chargers and modes of charging. This course also offers knowledge of different case studies and an understanding o of future charging technologies. Understanding the charging need of different fleets will help fleet managers to plan their charging schedules and requirements of EV fleets.
Pilot programs could be defined as small experiments to highlight the feasibility of projects. It helps to clarify any degree of uncertainty for the project. It helps organizations to understand how large-scale projects may perform in the real world on a small scale. With the help of these programs, fleet managers could test EVs on a smaller scale, identify problems and later implement fleet electrification on a large scale. The benefit of pilot programs is that fleet managers can “learn by doing”. Different industrial associations and organizations are involved in pilot programs for fleet electrification.
- In the USA, CLEARResult, Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E) and New York State State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) have joined hands to introduce a pilot program to increase understanding of the fleet electrification process. The pilot program reserved 285 EVs for the different organisations involved in this project. Moreover, this program provides fleet managers with hands-on technical support, one-on-one coaching, and interactive workshops with candidates.
- The City of Boston introduced a pilot program considering electric buses on a small scale. The aim is to make drivers and fleet managers understand the complexity of fleet electrification. The program is testing 20 electric buses with plans to complete phasing out of gasoline buses by 2030.
Fleet managers and drivers must understand different EV-related complexities with pilot programs. These programs should also ensure that managers understand the power needs of their fleets. In the USA, it could take 4 years to provide the electricity needed for fast-charging depots. Hence, education for pilot programs should revolve around vehicle specifications coupled with external environmental topics related to EV operations.
For the pilot programs, an effective team (drivers and fleet managers) should be chosen by the company interested in the program. This team will have to provide education in fleet electrification to other members of their organisation to understand the fleet electrification process; an agile team would benefit the organisation.
Trials could be defined as the small-scale implementation of a project before the main rollout. Fleet trials provided by leasing companies, OEMs, and dealerships provide the opportunity to fleet managers to determine the most suitable vehicles for electrification. City councils in the UK are providing EVs on trial so that the fleet electrification process is clear for fleet managers. Bristol is offering local organisations one or two-month electric vehicles (electric vans or electric cars) so fleet managers can understand the limitations and advantages of EVs. The City of Bristol also provides advice on fleet electrification, free insurance, and telematics provisions to interested organisations. A brief overview of the organisations providing free trials is shown below.
The demand for long-haul electric trucks and electric buses is low. Hence, new trials could be designed by OEMs and other organisations to understand these EVs. This will help the OEMs to have feedback from drivers and fleet managers and in return provide them with education and training about these vehicles. Fleet managers and drivers should be exposed to the charging needs of long-haul electric trucks and electric buses before adding them to their fleets. In this manner, the power needs and charger requirements of upcoming EVs should be clear for fleet managers and drivers.
Telematics is the joining of telecommunications and IT technology. Usually used for vehicles and fleets to trace their position. Many TSPs offer customised solutions to fleet organisations to create clarity and understanding of EV fleet operations. There are complex issues related to EV range, battery degradation, charging networks and eco-driving which can be simplified by telematics subscriptions. EVs also produce a large set of data which can be sorted by TSPs to generate reports for fleet managers.
Telematics providers also offer an assessment tool for the incorporation of EV fleets. The results can be used as a starting point for the education of fleet managers.
Fleet managers must be involved in the fleet electrification process from the beginning, this will help them identify potential problems, with the help of telematics. Telematics also has features which show what will be the most optimal and cost-effective time to charge the vehicles. Drivers and fleet managers could be educated about these features and the most cost-effective methods to charge EVs via telematics.
Driver behaviour could also be corrected with telematics. Driving with low charging can be detrimental to the EV battery. This can be corrected by providing education to drivers, showing telematics results when drivers rode below 20%. Drivers would also need training on when to plug-in and unplug chargers as the battery is sensitive to over-charging and under-charging.
It is high time that online education communities such as Udemy, EDx and Coursera design and provide courses to facilitate fleet managers and drivers. There is a clear need for a broad understanding of EV fleets and issues. Such courses can offer guidelines to understand the complexity of the issues and the way out. There is also a dire need for more pilot programs and trials for upcoming EVs (long-haul electric trucks and electric buses) which could have a substantial market share in the coming years. It is imperative that drivers and fleet managers are involved in the fleet electrification process from the beginning so that they fully understand the complexities and challenges of the fleet electrification process.
To learn more, find a detailed study of education in fleet electrification in our Fleet Electrification Global Study.