Research Brief

Electrifying public and private fleets

November 15, 2020
Authors: Peter Slowik

This report summarizes the knowledge gathered from a series of four interactive webinar discussions on electrifying public and private fleets, commissioned and convened by the International Zero Emission Vehicle Alliance.

The full transition to zero-emission transport means electrifying a diverse range public and private fleets in operation across the world. Many of those fleets present a variety of important opportunities to accelerate the transition, while others show unique challenges. The interactive webinar discussions provided insights to help identify and address the issues related to electrifying public and private fleets going forward.

There are many benefits to electrifying public and private fleets. Public and private entities alike can demonstrate their leadership and commitment to electric vehicles and help develop best practices for others to follow suit. Electrifying fleets both directly increases the sales and use of electric vehicles, while significantly increasing public exposure and awareness. In the right applications, electric fleet vehicles offer an attractive total cost of ownership, lower fuel and maintenance costs, and greater environmental benefits in high-mileage applications. The early projects around the world show great progress and there are many success stories. Drivers of electric fleet vehicles appear overwhelmingly pleased with the experience and enjoy the smooth, quiet, and zero-emission ride. Many of these drivers become champions for electric vehicles and encourage others to go electric.

As with privately owned electric vehicles, key barriers including model availability, higher upfront cost, charging infrastructure, and awareness hinder widespread electric vehicle fleet purchases. Fleets have unique needs and characteristics, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Because of this challenge and the need for tailored information, there is a growing body of technical assistance, case studies, and analytical tools to help fleet managers make the switch to electric vehicles. These personalized data-driven analyses are key to identifying which fleet vehicles are most suited for electrification and the associated financial and non-financial benefits of doing so. It will be critical to identify the fleet applications where electric vehicles will be successful or there is risk of negative perceptions and market set back. Many fleet applications are already suitable for electric vehicles under the current landscape. In other cases, sometimes a small change in logistics can lead to huge benefits.

A common theme throughout the four interactive webinar discussions is that policy is driving fleet electric vehicle uptake. A comprehensive policy ecosystem of aligned government actions like executive orders, ZEV-first procurement policies, regulations, fleet-friendly financial incentives, charging infrastructure programs, and low- and zero-emission zones in cities are helping to overcome barriers and accelerate fleet electric vehicle uptake. Many opportunities, anecdotes, and recommendations for governments emerged from the four interactive webinar discussion topics summarized above. Several promising and inspiring efforts by non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, industry groups, and governments are underway, and the early examples provide lessons learned and serve as models for others going forward. This report summarizes specific challenges, opportunities, and recommendations for governments to further promote electrification of government, corporate, commercial truck, and shared fleets.

Focus Areas

Electrifying fleets