Converting fleets to electric vehicles and adding roadside assistance
The idea of an electric pickup truck, van, van or tractor-trailer plying the roads seemed far-fetched just a few years ago. No more, because the electrification of the trucks that transport American goods and do their job is here and growing rapidly. Electric vehicles make a lot of sense for commercial fleets with lower fuel and maintenance costs and batteries that can be sized for a specific route to eliminate range anxiety.
Companies that plan their fleets for the short and long term are no longer thinking only of gasoline or diesel. They are now considering hybrid electric (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), battery electric (BEV) and soon hydrogen electric (FCEV) vehicles. Considerations include the distances traveled by fleet vehicles, the weights they carry, and the availability of electric and hydrogen fueling stations.
Hire a fleet management company
Companies looking to expand their fleet often turn to professionals who help them find the right vehicle for their needs, negotiate purchases, maintenance and overall fleet management. An example of such a company is merchant fleet who handles all of this. in addition to telematics and GPS tracking, accident and toll management, licenses and titles, fit-up and resale, they can also advise if a business is ready to be electric.
So why go through a fleet management company? It all depends on the size of the fleet. If you only have a few cars for sales or maybe a van for local deliveries, then going straight to a dealership might work. But for more efficient use of time and budget, a fleet management company should be considered.
But the most important thing is to know what type of vehicle propulsion is suitable for a company. Sales reps can easily all fit into hybrids or plug-in hybrids, and in most cases an all-electric car, light truck or SUV. The choices for these vehicles increase every month, proving the value of a fleet management company. Expect to see cities, counties, states and private companies transition to some sort of electrified light-duty vehicle, in Classes 1-3 (passenger cars through heavy-duty pickups), by the end of the decade .
The biggest news that will rock the trucking industry is the larger Class 7 and 8 semi-trailers. Globally, Kenworth electric battery, Kenworth Hydrogen Electric, Mercedes-Benz, Navistar/International, You’re here, volkswagen, VOLVOand Volta are just some of the brands that have announced the introduction of battery-electric or hydrogen-powered heavy-duty trucks. Class 4 to 6 battery electric trucks are also being developed by companies such as Zeus Electric Chassis and Zevx.
Emergency Road Service
Any company that manages a fleet needs to be confident that its vehicles are running smoothly and efficiently. This provides emergency roadside assistance. Fleet owners know that a breakdown at any point on a local, regional or transcontinental trip will cut into their schedule and fail to meet the needs of their customers. Obviously, good maintenance is the first step to avoiding interruptions, but when something does happen, there must be a coordinated system for emergency roadside repairs when it is not possible to reach a dealership.
One of the leading companies in the United States offering multi-faceted road services is Cox Automotive Mobility Fleet Services. Cox, through its own service centers and the acquisition of Interstate Truck Center and Dickson Fleet Services, has the ability to reach disabled trucks anywhere in the country with one of its more than 1,000 technicians and more than 750 mobile service trucks. Cox has an academy to train technicians in everything that will be needed to repair a vehicle, with a growing focus on electric vehicles.
Terry Rivers, vice president of Cox, said “we’re going through a transition from fleet electrification,” implying that there’s “a lot of misinformation out there” about electrified vehicles. Range anxiety is still high, and he said many people think electrification is “a fad and wonder if it’s going to catch on”. It’s something Rivers says he has to work through with clients and even their internal managers.
Trained and certified technicians
Whether it’s a passenger car or a utility vehicle, emergency service can bring peace of mind to drivers. For the trucks that carry everything we consume, it’s a lifeline to get goods and products to their final destination. When a truck breaks down, service for tires, wheels, suspension and other common parts is the same for a gasoline or diesel vehicle as it is for a battery-electric or hydrogen-powered vehicle.
Terry Rivers with Cox tells a story. When electric vehicles were first introduced, technicians didn’t want them. But now, he says, “when I call a qualified technician to tell him that an electric vehicle has failed in his area, I hear nothing but excitement on the other end of the phone. , which is the opposite of years ago. Rivers goes on to say that it’s encouraging because “people are running towards them (electric vehicles) and not away from them.”
The consumer and trade connection
Drivers don’t think about trucks they see on the road unless they’re in their way, so it all depends on how to pass them safely. But there is a much stronger connection between the two vehicles. Without these trucks, store shelves would be empty, which means keeping them on the road is crucial. This is where fleet management and mobile assistance come in, because without them there would be chaos on the roads.
Companies will look to the future to find out what kind of propulsion will move their fleets. Then, once they have a working fleet, the focus is on how to keep it that way. With the ability to drive heavy trucks on the road autonomously, it is conceivable that the trucks will be in service with minimal breaks. This means mobile repairs will become even more important to the supply chain and keeping food on the table.
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Story by John Faulkner.
Opinion: Dispelling some electric vehicle myths regarding fleet electrification