If you want to advance green vehicle technologies, get a leader in the fleet management sector to jump on board. To simplify it, fleets tend to buy large volumes of vehicles and drive the hell out of them in a fairly short period of time – the deployment period brings extremely valuable operating data – cost per mile, lifecycle costs, greenhouse gas emissions, fuel efficiency, driver safety, technology integration, idle time, telematics, risk management, maintenance cycles – you name it, fleets know it. If you’re marketing fleet-friendly passenger and commercial vehicles, you just need a handful of influential fleet managers or fleet management companies to make the acquisition and say nice things about your product. Years ago, it seemed electric vehicles would stay out of the reach of fleets, since most were adopting natural gas vehicles, hybrids, and fuel-efficient midsize cars.
Here’s one person to take note of — Deb Frodl, chief strategy officer for one of the largest fleet entities in the world –
GE Capital Fleet Services – and who is also Global Electric Vehicle Leader for General Electric. Frodl is a true believer in EVs. She wrote “Electric Vehicles: The Future Is Now,” for Environmental Leader. According to Frodl, there are a few trends to pay attention to, the most important being that EVs are on the verge of wide adoption, especially since a few major corporations and utilities are buying tens of thousands of them – AT&T, Duke Energy, GE, Hertz, Coca-Cola, Google, Pepsico Frito-Lay, and UPS, to name a few.
What are fleets getting out of buying into EVs? Three fundamental reasons, she says. One is a need for economic stability – with the volatility of fuel prices, electricity becomes more attractive to corporate planners. Reducing greenhouse gases is up there, and it’s supported by federal and state tax incentives. A plug-in hybrid can reduce GHG by as much as 30% over conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. Finally, using EVs can mean bringing in cutting edge designs and technologies, creating a competitive marketing edge and new business opportunities in a tough global marketplace.