What do fleet managers and operators need to know about people and electrification?
When managing or operating fleets of any kind, there are two things that need to be considered – the equipment and the people operating the equipment. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for businesses to focus more on the former than the latter. Innovation, the environment, and cost benefits are often cited as the main reasons for going electric. For green companies, the conversation also encompasses a brand promise. However, few organizations are talking about the valuable additional benefit of employee satisfaction. In fact, getting the people piece right is essential to all large-scale business changes, and this is equally true for an EV fleet transition. Proper employee training and awareness are key to success when going electric.
“Businesses often forget the critical human component connected to a transition to electric fleets. In addition to employee training and safety, paying close attention to the nuances of an electric fleet infrastructure is key to ensuring people are at the center of the approach to charging. Details such as the type, power level, and quantity of chargers are critical to building a charging infrastructure that supports your fleet, business, and employee needs,” Mike Anderson, VP & COO of Go-Station, adds.
Below are three key areas fleet managers and operators should pay special attention to and proactively address and maximize when going electric.
EVs drive differently than combustion-engine vehicles. They are quicker off the line (much quicker, in most cases!) and can burn energy even faster. They are also completely silent, adding a new level of required safety awareness for commercial (and all!) EV drivers.
A prime (yes, referring to the mega online retailer!) example of a fleet move to electric requiring operator training is Amazon. The retailer plans to introduce 100,000 Rivian EV delivery vans into its fleet by 2024, recently committed to buying more EV’s from Stellantis, and currently have electric vans on the road delivering customer packages.
While the details of Amazon’s EV driver training program have yet to be made public, the company is known for robust employee training across its business and feedback on their EV fleet transition concerning vehicle operations will certainly reflect their efforts.
“We’ve heard very positive feedback from drivers and partners on the vehicles performance, features and functionality,” confirms Kate Scarpa, Director of Public Relations, Amazon Sustainability.
Like any new piece of large machinery introduced into an employee’s workflow, training drivers on the safe and effective way to operate an EV must be taken seriously. There needs to be a recognition that EVs are unique, requiring time and instruction for drivers to get comfortable driving them. Robust employee training covering driving, charging, and range optimization will ensure EV fleet transition success.
Key EV training considerations are:
- While most drivers will admit that gunning an EV at a green light is exhilarating, nothing drains a battery (or destroys tires) faster. Teaching commercial EV drivers to be aware is key to ensuring the longevity of fleet vehicles.
- Drivers should find their optimal, safe cruising speed to conserve range. The faster they go, the more energy they burn.
- If your drivers charge their work EVs, ensure they know not to overcharge. Frequent charging to full capacity may impact battery performance and longevity. If your employees take their EVs home to charge, they should be aware of utility rates. The most affordable time to charge will most likely be in the evening.
- Drivers should plan their routes when possible. Hills and highways burn more range, and knowing they can get a charge when needed will make your employees feel more secure and engaged.
- Driver comfort should always be paramount, but drivers should also be mindful of when they need to use climate control, charge a phone, or use other energy-consuming features. If possible, EVs should be preconditioned while they are charging. Heating or cooling a cabin while the vehicle is plugged in won’t take precision miles from the battery, and your driver will experience comfort the moment they enter their vehicle.
- Applying the brakes in an EV when not required wastes energy. Drivers should be conditioned to use the power of their vehicle’s regenerative braking system, whenever possible, to conserve energy by simply removing their foot from the accelerator and letting the EV naturally brake on its own. Despite this, drivers should never hesitate to apply the brake when needed.
- Avoid vampire drain by keeping EVs covered in a garage, carport, or under a shady tree. Furthermore, drivers should be aware that third-party apps connected to EVs drain the battery. Ensuring your drivers never get stuck is critical for safety, engagement, and your business operations.
According to a 2021 World Health Organization study, more than half of worldwide traffic fatalities involve pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. Moreover, traffic injuries are the top cause of childhood and young adult deaths. Other research found that driving a truck for a living is the most dangerous job in the US. These stats are related exclusively to combustion engine vehicles. Electric vehicles are fast and can’t always be heard, so the danger to playing children, runners, walkers, bicyclists, pets, and other drivers can be increased without proper training and care.
Training drivers on the extra precautions needed when driving an EV will help avoid unnecessary accidents and harm to your employees, company, customers, and others.
Actions such as an extra look, slower speeds, and smooth and gradual acceleration can help save lives.
Today, an employee value proposition (EVP) that includes corporate social responsibility (CSR) is critical to talent attraction and retention. In fact, the Center for Creative Leadership reports that nearly 85% of Millennials will choose making a positive difference in the world over professional recognition.
It is no secret that employees want to work for environmentally friendly and socially responsible companies. They want their organizations to make a meaningful difference to their community. Driving electric is also fun, which is an extra engagement bonus.
In addition to employee and corporate benefits such as tax breaks, electric fleets attract and retain socially conscientious customers, save businesses money, and help organizations operate more efficiently.
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