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  6. The to-dos when electrifying a fleet

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The to-dos when electrifying a fleet

Local CO₂-free mobility, attractive buyer subsidies in many European countries and reduced motor vehicle taxes in many cases, hand-in-hand with low repair and maintenance costs – and last, but not least, sustained image enhancement: the advantages of electric mobility are clear to see.

In response, the demand for electrically powered vehicles has increased rapidly – take the German market, for example, where the number of newly registered electric vehicles in 2020 more than tripled compared with the previous year.

Who knows it all?
Electrification is quite complex for fleet operators – regardless of whether they are considering a complete or partial transition. It all starts with choosing the right car. Not every electric car will suit every application or driving profile. And, in contrast to combustion engine models, an electric fleet requires a well thought-out, integrated charging concept if the cars are to be ready for action at all times. Moreover, the car policies have to be adapted and new billing models designed. Last, but not least, there is also the question of the charging infrastructure – in the company and at the employee’s home. A certain lead time should therefore be built in when transitioning fully or partially to electric mobility.

As is so often the case, a supposedly simple process like procuring electric vehicles can involve a lot more. An integrated view is needed if the electric evolution is not to quickly lose its impetus.

Thomas Rennebaum, Head of Group Fleet Sales International, Volkswagen Group Fleet International

Who can help me?
The first point of contact for all topics concerning fleet electrification are the international key account managers from Volkswagen Financial Services and Volkswagen Group Fleet International; the regional key account managers in the respective market are naturally also on hand. In collaboration with partners, such as Volkswagen Group Charging GmbH (Elli), they can provide major clients with a comprehensive service package on the topic of electric mobility – from the smart wall box for use at home by the company car driver to fuel cards for charging at public charging stations through to an in-house charging infrastructure at the company.
 

Where do I start?
The first step in successfully electrifying the fleet is to check the driving profile. How many kilometres do employees actually travel on average with their company cars? What costs and emissions arise from these journeys? And at what times of the day are the cars usually on the road or can be charged?

  • “The Fleet Transition Tool offers an entry point for an initial analysis of the electrification potential of the current fleet. Together with their key account managers in Volkswagen Group Fleet International and Volkswagen Financial Services AG, customers can ask a few simple questions to identify the usage and driving criteria where their company car drivers see electric mobility as offering an additional benefit and where the transition is already profitable today.”
     

What should be noted in any case?
The biggest hurdle to overcome at the start of an electrification process is without doubt the establishment of an efficient charging infrastructure within the company. What is recommended in this respect is a mix of stationary charging stations at the company locations, employee wall boxes for charging at home and app/charging card solutions for straightforward charging at public stations.

  • With Volkswagen Group Charging GmbH (Elli), Volkswagen has established its own start-up for all activities in and around the charging of electric cars. Elli offers fleet customers various charger/wall box models and own natural power.
  • Company car drivers also have the possibility to charge their vehicles conveniently at more than 55,000 charging points in Germany using the charge&fuel card from LogPay Transport Services GmbH issued in cooperation with Elli. Moreover, LogPay offers cross-border charging at more than 230,000 charging points in Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Poland, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Finland. The convenient search and filter function offered by the app makes it really easy to get an overview of all connected charging stations and their occupancy status. The charging stations are likewise displayed in the navigation system.
  • Furthermore, company car drivers using the charge&fuel card receive subsidised access to Europe’s largest fast-charging network, IONITY, along the most important highways in Europe. This means that even company car drivers operating in a large catchment area can enjoy the benefits of electrified vehicles.

 

What is important for the future?
Apart from the cost of investment, maintenance and upkeep, companies also need to consider aspects such as sufficient space, approvals, construction work and installations when establishing their own infrastructure. It makes sense to allow for future extensions straight from the outset – for example, by providing ductwork for later retrofits and space in distribution boxes.

Meanwhile, there are also solutions on the market with solar roofs, where electric cars can charge for free during working hours using solar power. Mobile charging robots are even conceivable in the foreseeable future; Volkswagen Group Components presented a study in this respect on how electric vehicles can be supplied with power automatically, regardless of location. Such innovative concepts should provide an interesting option especially for fleets that have limited possibilities to extend charging stations or in underground car parks.
 

Not forgetting the charging management system
In order to ensure that there is always enough electricity available for all electric cars on the company premises that need to be charged, even during peak times, companies need management software to monitor and control the current charging processes.

A user-friendly energy management system also allows professional charging on the company premises to be kept separate by means of a software solution from that carried out at a wall box at home – making it much easier to produce precise billing.
 

Reward programmes
There is no question, the electrification of a fleet involves costs. But many state and regional support programmes are available to cushion a not inconsiderable portion of the investment. Fleet managers should also make sure not to miss out on these.

  • Recommendation: Because the manner in which the subsidies are provided differs greatly in the European markets – and even individual regional measures are possible to an extent – it makes sense to look at this aspect on a country-specific basis. The local key account managers are happy to provide advice and assistance in this respect.

Successful electrification of the fleet requires good planning, integrated implementation and financial support. We are pleased to help you with this.
 

Status: 01. September 2021

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