You’ve done the research, weighed the pros and cons and you’re ready to add electric vehicles to your fleet. Now’s the perfect time to take advantage of the lessons learned by early adopters to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes.

Let’s dive into the five of the most common mistakes to avoid when adding EVs to your fleet.

1. Choosing the wrong vehicles

With a growing list of electric models available on the market, choosing the right model of EV to fit your fleet’s unique needs might feel overwhelming. There are many factors to consider to get the right balance of vehicle range, size, and of course cost. 

That’s why Geotab created the EV Suitability Assessment (EVSA). Powered by the largest dataset for real-world EV performance, the Geotab EVSA offers data-driven recommendations to help make the transition to electric as seamless as possible for fleets.

The EVSA makes it easy to analyze your fleet's unique driving profiles and patterns to identify the vehicles best suited for EV replacements. Users will receive personalized make and model recommendations that take into consideration: EV availability in the local market, daily range requirements and financials related to procuring and operating the EVs. The recommendations reflect real-world conditions that factor in performance in extreme weather. They’ll receive a fleet electrification blueprint, which analyzes the total cost of ownership and reveals the cost and emissions comparison of switching to EVs.

2. Overlooking EV incentives

When it comes to EV incentives, it pays to be in the know. However, while many governments around the world continue to roll out electric vehicle tax credits and purchase incentives, the public isn’t always aware of the incentives available to them. A 2019 consumer poll by Morning Consult showed that 84% of respondents were unsure whether incentives were available to electric vehicle buyers in their state.

Depending on location, fleet owners may not only have access to purchase incentives, but also added savings including: 

  • HOV lane access with single passengers in an EV
  • Grants to install charging stations
  • Discounts on charging infrastructure from utility providers
  • Reduction in carbon offset costs 
  • Package deals on solar panel installation
  • Waived sales tax and emissions inspections

In fact, in many jurisdictions across North America, the available EV incentives are “stackable,” so knowing what is offered at the city, state/province and federal levels will ensure you maximize any potential benefits. Thousands of dollars may be available in rebates and daily use discounts.

But keep in mind, incentives can change rapidly according to the whims of local governments, making it vital to stay on top of deadlines when considering an EV purchase. We recommend paying close attention to economic recovery plans this year, as many are prioritizing clean investments.

3. Neglecting to charge

One of the biggest mistakes when fleets first introduce electric vehicles is operators forgetting to plug in. For plug-in hybrids, this means spending more on fuel, and not taking full advantage of the savings running on electricity can bring. For fully electric vehicles, this could mean unplanned downtime in your fleet, a costly mistake. For return-to-base fleets, charging doesn’t mean a separate trip, vehicles can plug in at the end of the day, ready for the next day’s shift with a full charge. Driver training can be complemented by customizable alerts that can be programmed in your fleet management system, telling the driver or fleet manager if a vehicle should be charging but is not.

4. Charging at the wrong time

As utility providers move toward time-of-use (TOU) policies that discourage EV charging during peak hours, fleets must ensure they make the most of off-peak charging hours. Additionally, demand charges can sometimes come as a surprise to fleet operators new to the world of EVs. It’s important to be aware of the large penalties utilities can charge when fleets use too much power at once (e.g., charging five fleet vehicles in a depot at the same time, rather than staggering them). To make it a little easier to understand, we’ve identified three varying charging systems fleets should be aware of:

  • Uncontrolled charging — Charging begins as soon as the vehicle is plugged in. This method ignores peak demand and limits the amount of savings made possible through electrification.
  • Scheduled charging — Charging is delayed until pricing is lower, for instance overnight. By setting the schedule according to your utility pricing, fleets can save over 20%.
  • Smart charging — The smartest system delays and reduces charging to optimize load on the facility. Bonus: integrating smart charging with vehicle-side telematics can dynamically prioritize which vehicles to charge, ensuring your vehicles are always ready when needed. Fleet operators could potentially save over 60% off charging costs compared to the uncontrolled system.

5. Operating without performance data

The most common mistake when adding EVs to your fleet is also the most avoidable: failing to track your vehicle’s performance from the start. Without the proper tools in place to maximize ROI on your EVs, fleets are essentially leaving money on the table. For instance, fleets may be under-deploying their EVs, putting them in low-use duty cycles rather than maximizing their electric miles. The money saved by tracking proper utilization of vehicles can go right back into the business and help pay down vehicle costs.

An EV telematics provider can give you data-driven answers to any questions that arise when using your electric vehicles. You’ll have access to daily reports on every vehicle, including individual trip details, charging data and driver feedback. Taking the time to understand the key metrics for EV performance will help ensure fleets get the most out of their investment.

Learn more about EV fleet management with Geotab.