Electric vehicles (EVs) are already our present and they pose tremendous possibilities for the future. While the global auto industry suffered a punishing year in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Energy Agency reports that the electric car market bucked the wider trend with a growth of over 40% and is on track for a decade of strong expansion.
There are many key factors supporting this projection, including:
- Cost-efficiency: While EV batteries eventually need to be replaced, they are still cheaper than regularly filling up at the pump. Oil prices are currently skyrocketing due to political disturbances and fuel resources. EVs bypass all of these issues. Additionally, they have less expensive engine repair costs than fuel-based engines.
- Tax incentives and business grants: Many government agencies around the world support EV production and adoption through tax incentives and deductions aimed at creating a global zero-emissions environment.
- Fossil fuels are a finite resource: Stanford University's Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere study predicts oil to run out by 2052—only 30 years from now.
- Public and large transport vehicles are paving the way: Consumers aren't the only ones seeing the benefits of purchasing EVs. Public agencies and companies see the advantages as well.
Despite all of the benefits, EV adoption in the commercial and public sectors still faces significant obstacles. Despite these challenges, organizations that plan for the future can overcome roadblocks and set their EV fleet up for success by implementing specific infrastructure and processes.
The challenges of implementing company-wide EVs
The rising daily costs of fuel—both in the U.K. and the U.S.—put enormous pressure on companies and public authorities to decrease their fuel costs and stay true to environmental and net-zero goals. In the U.K., for example, the manufacturing of diesel and petrol cars will be banned by 2040.
As a clear alternative, many organizations must consider operating a fleet of EVs to replace fuel-powered vehicles. Companies should prepare for the distinct considerations that come with making this move.
If an employee lives in a rental unit or multi-unit complex with paid utilities rather than in a single-family home with an individual electric account, what is a fair process for measuring and compensating electric use specific to car charging? Another key consideration from a reimbursement perspective is process. While fuel and mileage reimbursements follow a standard business expense process, an organization may need to make adjustments for electricity. Companies must ask themselves: How long will it take to reconcile personal energy use and initiate payment to the employee—weeks, months? A low-wage-earning driver may not be able to float a high electric bill for very long, possibly leaving them vulnerable to late fees or having their power services disconnected. Such actions, including a non-payment, may even impact their credit rating in the long run. Such a situation clearly decreases morale and puts a company at risk depending on employee or union contracts.
Designated charging points: a new frontier in company EV implementation
To avoid the pitfalls associated with complicated utility bills, infrastructure, and time, a viable solution for many employers is to install organization-designated charging points in employees' homes. This removes the hassle of trying to charge an EV in a public space.
Navigating a new landscape of charging infrastructures
Not all employees will have access to home-charging options for a company EV. Additionally, while out in the field, charging an EV isn't quite as comparable to a quick stop to fill up at the pump. While the EV infrastructure continues to grow, organizations should be aware that employees may have to travel further and spend longer to recharge company vehicles. This may prompt some employees to recharge while running errands after work or over the weekend while running errands. In such cases, there are insurance issues to consider—especially for government agencies. Additionally, companies will need to factor in time and price as components and consider whether or not they impact overtime or charging prices.
TheoremOne has been speaking with SMS plc about a potential solution. As a hardware provider, SMS can provide robust EV charge points. We can then build custom software that interacts both with your chosen energy provider and your internal systems to send all billing information directly to you. Our design thinking focus at every stage of product development creates a single streamlined process. Rather than having hundreds of different expense claims, an organization will have just one bill for its EV energy usage.
When an EV is plugged into this charger, it can communicate to the grid and ask, "When is the best time to charge?" It can also check the condition of the battery and different opportunities to charge the EV. If there are any price reductions for time-of-use charging, the solution can automatically turn the charge on or off to meet the most advantageous pricing times. This way, organizations gain a big-picture spend while also double-checking prices per car level.
From a data collection standpoint, there are a number of beneficial factors that expand beyond managing a fleet of traditional fuel-consuming vehicles. When using an organizational charger, the company can gain access to a whole range of vehicle information. This includes details on the car's use, battery condition, energy consumption, or any vehicle tariffs to manage maintenance and costs.
Investing in the future of EV and employees
A lack of infrastructure in the U.K.—or more specifically, lack of space to create charging hubs on commercial properties—means that many U.K. organizations seeking to deploy EVs need to find a comprehensive solution to install EV charging points at employees' homes.
Even more pressing is employee retention. Who will stick around for the long-term if employees invest big bucks for the company upfront with the hopes of reimbursement sometime in the unknown future? Add to this mix the rising price of expensive fuel costs, growing at a rapid pace, and punitive local and governmental compliance fines for not switching to EVs. To avoid a scramble as the deadlines loom, preparing now is the best option.