CRA Insights

Electrifying fleets: Challenges, opportunities and considerations

September 25, 2023
Charles River Associates EV charging vehicles

In a world acutely aware of the need for sustainability and environmental responsibility, businesses are under increasing pressure to revolutionise their operations. The urgency to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, phase out fossil fuels and transition to low-carbon energy systems has never been more critical. While significant strides have been made, both voluntarily and through regulatory mandates spanning industries over the past decade, for the transport sector, one challenge looms large on the horizon: the electrification of fleets.

Fleet electrification is not an entirely novel concept, but it faces a pressing deadline in many markets. The impending ban on sales of petrol and diesel internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles has thrust this transition into the spotlight. The decision to invest in electrifying a fleet is ultimately driven by the underlying economics, comparing the costs of adopting battery electric vehicles (BEVs) to maintaining a traditional ICE-powered fleet. This includes upfront expenditures, ongoing operational costs and the growing risk of financial penalties for failing to meet decarbonisation goals or fulfil ESG commitments promised to investors and markets.

However, the challenge extends beyond financial considerations. Operational uncertainties and risks must also be carefully weighed. Can the existing infrastructure handle the increased grid load required to power a fleet’s chargers? To what extent will schedules and operating models be affected by the unique characteristics of electric vehicles, such as range limitations?

At CRA, we have been closely monitoring the evolving landscape of the mobility and transportation sector. While various technologies, including alternative fuels and fuel cells, may have roles to play, the spotlight increasingly shines on battery electric vehicles as the linchpin of the future of transportation. This points to an increasing convergence between the mobility and transportation sectors on one side and the electricity system on the other.

In this context, we present our latest whitepaper, which delves into the intricate web of challenges, opportunities and considerations with which fleet operators must grapple as they contemplate the right time and pace for transitioning to battery electric vehicles. Simultaneously, we believe this paper holds relevance for utilities, energy service providers, grid operators, policy makers and investors across the ecosystem.

We hope this whitepaper will provide you with a comprehensive understanding and valuable insights into the complex decisions that businesses must make when formulating and executing a strategy to electrify their vehicle fleets. These decisions encompass not only vehicle acquisition but also the necessary infrastructure and business model adjustments required to support the operation of an electrified fleet.

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