How to identify suitable drivers in the Fleet to Switch to EV use?
An approach that works…
By Alex Baker, CEO CleanCar.io
This is our guide to uncover the maximum number of EV opportunities in your fleet with an easy, straightforward process that can be broken down into the following simple steps.
- Consider what you want to achieve and why, I always say, so consider what does success look like? It could be as simple as “we want to get 5 EV’s on our fleet by the end of this financial year”. Or “We would like to save £20,000 by introducing Ultra Low Emission Vehicles” and “We need to achieve a 10% emissions reduction as part of our CSR policy commitments’. Once you have a starting point, you can gauge if the process has succeeded or not.
- Understand the potential benefits to the organisation, the fleet and the employees and put them in order of priority. E.g.
- Fleet: Save Money, Reduce C02, Gain some Valuable PR
- Employee: Save TAX and personal fuel costs, avoid congestion and emissions tax, park in the prime position in the car park!
- Consider the quick wins and think about the parts of your fleet where you feel it will work such as the team that drives only in the major cities, or the cars that work in the Airport or port. Or could also be the service/maintenance or toilet cleaning van that does the same route every two weeks. You may as well pick the low hanging fruit to start with.
- Send out a quick questionnaire to the drivers who may be part of the process. Explain what you are trying to do, and the reasons why and then ask any of the simple questions such as:
- Is the employee supportive of the switch to EV, if yes why but if not why not?
- Where are their vehicles located when not in use? e.g. business car park, public car park, employees’ home, other
- For how long are their vehicles parked when not in use (e.g. overnight)?
- Estimates of daily/weekly usage pattern (number of trips/destinations, the distance between destinations, total daily mileage)?
- Any seasonal variations in usage?
- If a charge point is required at a home address and if so, is it possible to install a charge point at home (see note on Home ChargePoints)
- If a vehicle only had a range of 100 miles a day, are there any occasions where this would cause issues and if so, would a pool car solve this problem?
The above are just a few examples; you can come up with your own based on what you are trying to achieve but do keep it short and simple and concentrate on the key areas that could cause issues later.
Data Analysis Process:
The next step is a bit of a pitch or our services but I make no excuse for that, as I believe it the best approach.
CleanCar is a solution that uses a small plugin GPS device or a Phone app to record when and how a driver uses their vehicle. Over a period of a few weeks or a few months (depends on requirements and seasonality) we build up a profile of the driver allowing us to:
- See if a driver’s vehicle usage is suited to an EV or not
- See which vehicle is best suited to this purpose
- Show potential cost saving by making the switch
- Recommend ideal charging requirements
The process is as follows:
- Step 1 Define the Cohort: We work with a Fleet/Organisations to try and understand which users or groups of users are most likely to be suited to the restrictions and benefits of an EV. We then define this group and start a communication plan (outlined above)
- Step 2 Collect Data: A small GPS device is sent to these drivers, which is self-installed into the 12v Cigarette lighter socket of the vehicle.
- Step 3 Collect Behaviours: The driver simply goes about their routine as normal. When the vehicle is used, the GPS position of the vehicle is recorded and sent via the mobile network to our big data portal.
- Step 4 Analysis: Once a suitable amount of data is recorded (anything from 2 weeks to 3 months depending upon requirements) the user can log in to see:
- Are they suited to an Electric Vehicle
- Which EV’s are best suited to their needs
- What will be the cost/saving of making the switch compared to a new version of their current vehicle
- What is the ideal location and type of charge point
- Step 5 Reporting: A report is provided to a fleet manager or manager of the organisation as well as the driver. All of this data is fully protected, Data Protection legislation compliant and is anonymised where required.
The final step is unique to your Fleet’s requirements and involves a consultative approach, to fine-tune and optimise how you make the switch to EV’s for those suitable drivers/vehicle duty rosters in your fleet.
Areas worth consideration include:
- The optimum way to fund your new vehicles, to maximise tax efficiency.
- Optimum lease/finance terms and mileage breaks
- Bulk purchase/lease discounts
- Mileage reimbursement
- CSR policy compliance and C02 reduction target performance
Some words of warning!
Be very careful using manual mileage expenses data to do your analysis as, having run a mileage capture business for six years; I can say with some conviction and experience that most mileage expenses are pretty useless most having a significant overestimation of journey lengths. If you have any doubts, avoid it.
By way of a quick anecdote, it may not be the drivers who are overestimating but the measurement tool or software itself. Based on our previous analysis for a company we won’t name, we found many of its employees were perfectly suited to switching over to an EV as they were doing up to 20 small trips per day in and around the major cities. When we compared the accurate GPS data against the postcode to postcode look up in Google, we found a 16.24% discrepancy in the distances reported. This is simply because Google lookup was set to quickest route, not the shortest. The driver had local knowledge and took the shortest route, whereas Google was suggesting a less direct route. 16% discrepancy when you only have 80 miles range to play with can make a big difference. Using GPS data remove ambiguity.
The eight questions you should ask to find the ideal EV candidate
If you are not sure where to start with your fleet profiling why not send out a quick questionnaire to all your drivers.
Here are the questions I would ask to uncover the users that are most amenable and likely to be suitable for switching:
- Would you be happy driving an electric vehicle if it saved you money and was practical charge easily and conveniently?
- Is it possible to have a charge point installed at your home and would you be able to access the charge point each night?
- If your car started every day with 100 miles of range, please answer the following:
- This would be suitable for all my work and social requirements
- This would impact me at least twice a week
- This would impact me once a week
- This would impact me twice a month
- This would impact me one a month
- This would impact me occasionally
- Do you have access to more than one vehicle, i.e. is there another petrol or diesel vehicle that you can use.
- Are you interested in finding out more about electric vehicles and their benefits?
- Are there any reasons you know of that would prevent you from using an electric vehicle?
- Do you have any misgivings about electric vehicles?
- Do you feel the environmental benefits are worth the switch to electric from petrol/diesel?
It should be pretty clear from the responses to the above questions as to your driver’s initial suitability plus their attitude to and preconceptions of an electric vehicle. Also, some of the questions might seem very similar but are asked differently for accuracy purposes.
Remember you are trying to find the low hanging fruit so there is no point convincing a climate change sceptic who lives in a rented apartment on the 15th floor to make the switch when there are much easier opportunities to focus on.
Also, you want to try and draw out any objections that you can address early on. Such as “I need to drive from Birmingham to Plymouth every six months to visit an elderly aunt.” If you can overcome this by offering a pool vehicle or rental, then better to understand the potential issues sooner rather than later.
Scenarios: What does the ideal candidate for an EV look like?
PLEASE NOTE: These are simplified views for illustrative purposes, so we will not delve into all the potential tax efficiencies available. These profiles are designed to sell the concept to your drivers.
Persona 1: Julia
Works as a Regional Manager, looking after 5 sites/offices in the Black Country. Julia must go into the HQ in Dudley two days a week and then visits the other 4 sites in and around the Dudley and Wolverhampton area throughout the month. Julia lives locally and drives between 30 and 70 miles a day in her Renault Megane 2.0 petrol.
After 3 months of GPS analysis, it is proven that Julia could benefit from owning and Electric Vehicle and she decides upon the Nissan Leaf 24kw which is leased for around £270 per month fully maintained which is about £13 per month more than her previous Renault Megane.
The simple results:
Because Julia does lots of stop-start driving, her fuel economy was shocking giving her around 28mpg so this is where she sees the biggest savings as her monthly fuel costs have dropped from about £300 for petrol to around £38 for electricity.
Also, her company car tax has also reduced from around £2,467 to around £1,489.
Saving: Around £3500 in fuel and around £1000 in company car tax: In all Julia saves around £4100 per year from the reduced costs to run the vehicle and savings on company car tax.
Persona 2: Bob the Cleaner
Bob works for the local council have the job of cleaning the public toilets in the area. Due to the nature of the work, the vehicle ( a small van) does the same route every two weeks and each night is parked in the local depot.
The council wants to know the following:
- Will it be possible to switch from a Diesel Van to an EV
- Should they choose the Renault Kangoo or Nissan ENV200
- Will they save any money?
- Would a 7kw charger be suitable.
After driving about for two weeks with the CleanCar dongle we were able to run the trips through the analysis and found the following:
- Yes the vehicle is suited to an EV, despite the Electric Van costing nearly double the amount compared to the Diesel alternative there were considerable Whole Life Cost savings
- A 7kw charger is perfect for requirements.
- The Nissan ENV200 is the ideal choice, with a WLC payback in just over 1 year
Persona 3: John the Rep – A real-world example
John is a Sales Representative for a large multinational who’s previous car was an Audi Diesel A4 and he chose the Mitsubishi PHEV Outlander as his new car from a list of virtually any make and model of vehicles given his reasonably senior banding on the choice list which is based entirely on Whole life cost rankings.
When choosing his vehicle, he looked through the list and spotted the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV which some of his colleagues had also recently ordered. He did some research and realised that based on the details of the car, he could get quite a lot of car with very little BIK company car tax to pay. He looked at the official MPG, and after speaking to his colleagues realised he would be lucky to see 30% of that from real-world driving, but frankly, he did not care. The company, after all, pays for his fuel, and he could always fudge his mileage claims just a tad to compensate.
So John ended up ordering the Mitsubishi Outlander and as part of the deal, was offered some kind of “government initiative” to pay for a charging point on the side of his house. After looking at the paperwork and also thinking he may soon move to a new house, it all became a bit too complicated so he figured, as he was gaining the tax benefit anyway, that he didn’t really need to charge the vehicle at home.
It transpired that John’s employer has consequently seen his vehicle’s running costs increase significantly and are now looking at ways to penalise john for not using it properly, which involves now insisting he now pays for all the fuel used on his fuel card and then having to claim back the business element costs based on an “actual fuel cost” pence-per-mile basis. It has all got very complex with both John and his colleagues becoming very unhappy by the whole process, as after all, he just chose a car from the company’s list to choose from! He is up for a fight and has a union rep on his side.
John’s employer now plans to restrict the choice of the Outlander only to those employees who are suited to gaining the benefits of using one. Problem is they do not know how to measure and calculate the benefits or disadvantages accurately in a simple, straightforward manner. Consequently, they will most likely end up simply removing this vehicle from the choice list altogether.
Other Useful Links:
Looking to the future check out this video by Tony Seba one of my personal favourites. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b3ttqYDwF0
Glossary of Terms – We love our acronyms!
Personally, I like this one https://pod-point.com/landing-pages/electric-car-glossary
Here is another for the taxi industry http://www.levc.com/technology/glossary/
And another http://evsafecharge.com/ev-terms-glossary/
Note on use of language
Experts in the EV sector may pick up on my use of terminology in this guide; I make no excuses for sometimes not using the correct terminology. The Electric Vehicle space is confusing enough without the use of dozens of acronyms that only an ‘EV industry stalwart’ understands. But I have designed this guide for those individuals who have direct and indirect responsibility for making decisions about Fleet vehicle procurement and logistical management. So this guide is designed with those roles in mind and a belief that the information, guidance and advice should be presented in a straightforward and helpful format. Hence I have tried to avoid the jargon but you can find links at the bottom of this guide to some very useful glossaries for clarity around industry buzz words.