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Selecting Electric Vehicles for Fleets
Fleet managers have for many years been familiar with the use of alternative fuel vehicles and hybrid gas-electric vehicles. With the release of mainstream plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles, in late 2010, fleet managers have an unprecedented opportunity to raise efficiency and environmental performance to a new level by using electricity as an automotive fuel – supplied by the grid and delivered via a plug.
With this transition comes a set of profound implications for fleet managers in terms of upfront cost (related to expensive batteries and charging equipment), available incentives, limitations in driving range, refueling times (often measured in hours), and selection of vehicles to optimize efficiency based on a vehicle's all-electric range (AER). Fleet managers will also need to consider charging equipment and related terms, as well as the relative efficiency of the vehicle while exclusively powered by electricity and (in the case of plug-in hybrids) during the period when a gas engine is employed to extend driving range. Pike Research forecasts that worldwide fleet purchases of plug-in electric vehicles will grow from approximately 37,000 vehicles in 2013 to more than 291,000 vehicles by 2020.
This research brief outlines the spectrum of vehicle electrification that has broadened in recent years. It includes a definition of terms and considerations regarding charging equipment and how it affects range planning. The leading plug-in electric vehicles are described and placed in the context of decisions regarding range, charging and cost. Finally, the report provides a conceptual framework for considering adoption scenarios, from "wait and see" to "full speed ahead." Written as a primer – rather than a complete guide – this research brief quickly introduces fleet managers to a rapidly approaching future in which plugs and chargers are standard features of an efficient fleet.