Private or public light duty vehicle fleets, with charging infrastructure, are another use case communities may want to consider. Fleet vehicles typically have predictable routes and their use can be scheduled more consistently than privately owned vehicles. This provides fleet owners with the ability to schedule electric fleet in-service periods and charging times to align with times of day when it is more advantageous from traffic congestion, power system stability, electricity price, or emissions perspectives.
Applicability, Benefits, and Tradeoffs
Vehicle fleet charging requires banks of charging stations, which will vary in size depending on the size of the fleet. This option is ideal for municipalities or businesses who own many light duty electric vehicles and can locate charging stations on premises at their offices. The table below lists common benefits and tradeoffs of EVs and indicates how well this use case achieves these benefits. Green indicates the use case typically achieves the benefit. Yellow indicates the use case sometimes achieves the benefit. Red indicates the use case does not achieve the benefit.
Reduced Traffic Congestion: Investing in an electric vehicle fleet would not necessarily change the total number of vehicles on the road unless fleet vehicles enabled an increase in rideshares and carpooling.
Increased Equity and Accessibility: Electric fleet vehicles, such as those owned by universities, can expand electric transportation opportunities to the communities or staff that they serve, but this depends substantially on the purpose and use of the fleet.
Reduced Emissions: Light duty vehicles, like cars and trucks, are the largest and fastest-growing source of transportation GHG emissions, responsible for 60% of transportation sector GHG emissions in the United States. According to the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, electric cars, on average, create half as much carbon pollution as a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. For individual communities, pollution levels will largely depend on the type of fuel used to generate the electricity that charges the electric vehicles.
User Economic Benefits: The economic benefits of fleet electrification go to the fleet owners and not to the individual EV operators.
Owner Economic Benefits: An advantage of electric fleet vehicles is that the overall operating cost can be lower than ICE vehicles. The figure below compares the total cost of ownership between different models of ICE vehicles and EVs. Certain fleet vehicles, particularly light duty trucks, drive several thousand more miles per year than vehicles for personal use. Higher annual mileage can help lower total operating cost per mile and maximize the return on investment achieved for electric vehicles.
Renewable Energy Co-Location: Solar arrays for EVSE can be located near or above parking spaces for fleet vehicles, or on the roof on the owner’s building. Some fleet vehicles could be scheduled to charge during the middle of the day when there is more solar energy production and to avoid certain peak times of the day when energy demand is highest on the electric grid. The size of the array will influence the ability to impact demand spikes, however, the solar array will generally not be able to meet the entire demand of the charging station, especially for Level 2 or Level 3 chargers. Another consideration is that if electric vehicle charging infrastructure is placed at locations to accommodate fleet vehicles, it may not be visible to the public and the education and public awareness benefits of light duty vehicle charging stations may not be realized.