Fleets should lead EV adoption

Fleets should lead EV adoption

Fleets could have 200,000 electric vehicles in service by 2015, generating the volume needed to bring down prices and make EVs broadly practical, according to a new report released by the Electrification Coalition, a Washington, DC, group created in 2009 to promote development of electric-drive vehicles

FedEx chairman Fredrick Smith

Fleets could have 200,000 electric vehicles in service by 2015, generating the volume needed to bring down prices and make EVs broadly practical, according to a new report released by the Electrification Coalition, a Washington, DC, group created in 2009 to promote development of electric-drive vehicles.

FedEx expects to see EV costs “overtake internal combustion light-duty vehicles in the 2015 to 2016 timeframe,” said FedEx chairman Fredrick Smith at a press conference called to release the coalition’s “Fleet Electrification Roadmap.” With advances in battery technology promising to cut initial capital costs for EVs, fleet operating characteristics could offer “per-mile costs that are 70% to 80% less than current [internal combustion vehicle] costs,” Smith said.

Looking at the 250-million personal vehicles in the U.S., Smith pointed out that the infrastructure for recharging EVs “at home or in parking lots” is already largely in place and that “the vast majority of fuel that would be used is already being produced and dissipated at night right now.”

Acknowledging GE’s announcement that it would purchase 25,000 EVs for fleet operations, Smith said the fleet roadmap outlined by the coalition “has real potential to move [conversion to EVs] much faster.”

With more than 16-million vehicles in commercial and government fleets, many are currently driving up to 100 mi. a day with the least efficient vehicles, according to Reuben Munger, chairman of commercial EV developer Bright Automotive. Given that relatively high mileage, fleets could potentially “save four to five times more gasoline than consumers” by using EVs, he said at the Electrification Coalition press conference.

Callings EVs “a lethal weapon against imported oil,” Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) said. “I believe the path [to conversion]is inevitable. We just need to put the regulatory mechanism in place.”

Offering detailed cost-of-ownership models for a variety of fleet applications, the coalition’s report suggested those mechanisms should be “targeted, temporary policies” that include: tax credits for light-, medium- and heavy-duty EVs used by fleets; clean renewable energy bonds for building infrastructure; guaranteed residual value for the first generation of lithium-ion batteries, and electrification of the Federal fleet that includes Postal Service vehicles.

“It is important to consider all of the applications where electric drive technology makes sense, and what we have found is that the case is very strong for a number of fleet applications over the next five years,” said Smith. “Fleet electrification alone will not solve our pressing energy-security challenges, but by bringing costs down, it will provide a critical boost to the consumer electric vehicle market.”

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