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NEW Read our latest report - You've installed EV chargers on your site - now what?

NEW Read our latest report - You've installed EV chargers on your site - now what?

How putting the driver first can help fleet operators design a solution that works best for their business

The nature of fleets is changing. According to Visa, 45 per cent of fleet operators have moved at least partially to electric or hybrid vehicles, with almost three-quarters (73%) planning to transition to sustainable alternative fuels within the next five years.

While budgetary restrictions and the availability of EVs can mean these plans may be progressing more slowly than hoped, organisations that own and operate large fleets of vehicles, or that require employees to use their own vehicles to perform their job, are already having to rethink many of the processes around how they will manage their vehicles and support their employees when their fleets eventually electrify.

One of the key considerations in the transition from petrol or diesel to electric is the change in the driver experience. Rather than refuelling their vehicles on the road or on-site, a growing number of drivers must now consider where, when, and how to charge their EVs. Indeed, this shift has led many fleet operators to revisit the importance of the driver experience as part of their fleet solution.

Driver-centric fleet

The changes brought about by the adoption of EVs mean there are a number of factors which many fleet operators are now considering when designing a more driver-centric fleet solution.

These factors include how fleet vehicles are used – how far they’re driven, for example, or whether they’re used for scheduled or ad hoc customer visits. One of the key differences between petrol and diesel vehicles and EVs is the way they ‘fill up’ the vehicle. Petrol drivers have to plan to go a petrol station to fill up, whilst EV drivers need to consider whether the place they will park their vehicle has an EV charger. Will the vehicle be charged on-site, on the road, or at the driver’s house? This may sound obvious, but to drivers it can be a fundamentally different way of thinking, and one that may take some getting used to.

All drivers already know how to use a fuel pump. Charge points are not overly complicated, but they can feel overwhelming when you don’t know how to use them, especially given the number of types and payment options. Many drivers are instinctively resistant. For an efficient transition, some simple training might be needed for drivers that goes through the different chargepoint types and ways to pay. OEMs’ offers of vehicle demos or ride-and-drive days have proven useful here, both of which can help drivers familiarise themselves with this new way of operating.

Payment methods must be considered, as well. Setting up a fleet card scheme for drivers to pay for charging and bill the charge directly to the company is usually the preferred way to pay for fleet drivers. But this isn’t right for everyone, and even when it is, there will be times the driver forgets it or needs an emergency charge at a charge point that’s not in the scheme, which will likely need to be done via app or contactless.

This is why many fleet managers are now putting in place contingency systems, for drivers to claim back expenses and VAT if they need to pay on their own card, for instance, as some inevitably will, and for easy expensing and accounting systems into the fleet payment scheme.

Understanding is key

Much of this is new territory for fleet operators, though lessons are clearly being learned quickly. Many operators we talk to speak highly of having regular feedback discussions with drivers to ensure everyone is up to speed, and of maintaining open dialogue with OEMs who can advise on best practices.

Considering a fleet solution that addresses drivers’ needs and preferences – one that enables them to find charge points, charge their vehicle, and pay for it, knowing they won’t be out of pocket – will help fleet operators and drivers alike prepare for the transition to electric, and ultimately add value to the business as drivers become more comfortable with the adoption of EVs.

Ultimately, managing an electric fleet shouldn’t be different to managing a petrol or diesel fleet. When you look at it from the driver’s point of view, however, this clearly isn’t the case – and drivers’ experience can be very different depending on how they prefer to charge. The fact is, fleets aren’t simple, especially with the added variables of EVs and all they entail. But getting it right from the driver’s perspective should help make everything that much more straightforward.

How putting the driver first can help fleet operators design a solution that works best for their business

The nature of fleets is changing. According to Visa, 45 per cent of fleet operators have moved at least partially to electric or hybrid vehicles, with almost three-quarters (73%) planning to transition to sustainable alternative fuels within the next five years.

While budgetary restrictions and the availability of EVs can mean these plans may be progressing more slowly than hoped, organisations that own and operate large fleets of vehicles, or that require employees to use their own vehicles to perform their job, are already having to rethink many of the processes around how they will manage their vehicles and support their employees when their fleets eventually electrify.

One of the key considerations in the transition from petrol or diesel to electric is the change in the driver experience. Rather than refuelling their vehicles on the road or on-site, a growing number of drivers must now consider where, when, and how to charge their EVs. Indeed, this shift has led many fleet operators to revisit the importance of the driver experience as part of their fleet solution.

Driver-centric fleet

The changes brought about by the adoption of EVs mean there are a number of factors which many fleet operators are now considering when designing a more driver-centric fleet solution.

These factors include how fleet vehicles are used – how far they’re driven, for example, or whether they’re used for scheduled or ad hoc customer visits. One of the key differences between petrol and diesel vehicles and EVs is the way they ‘fill up’ the vehicle. Petrol drivers have to plan to go a petrol station to fill up, whilst EV drivers need to consider whether the place they will park their vehicle has an EV charger. Will the vehicle be charged on-site, on the road, or at the driver’s house? This may sound obvious, but to drivers it can be a fundamentally different way of thinking, and one that may take some getting used to.

All drivers already know how to use a fuel pump. Charge points are not overly complicated, but they can feel overwhelming when you don’t know how to use them, especially given the number of types and payment options. Many drivers are instinctively resistant. For an efficient transition, some simple training might be needed for drivers that goes through the different chargepoint types and ways to pay. OEMs’ offers of vehicle demos or ride-and-drive days have proven useful here, both of which can help drivers familiarise themselves with this new way of operating.

Payment methods must be considered, as well. Setting up a fleet card scheme for drivers to pay for charging and bill the charge directly to the company is usually the preferred way to pay for fleet drivers. But this isn’t right for everyone, and even when it is, there will be times the driver forgets it or needs an emergency charge at a charge point that’s not in the scheme, which will likely need to be done via app or contactless.

This is why many fleet managers are now putting in place contingency systems, for drivers to claim back expenses and VAT if they need to pay on their own card, for instance, as some inevitably will, and for easy expensing and accounting systems into the fleet payment scheme.

Understanding is key

Much of this is new territory for fleet operators, though lessons are clearly being learned quickly. Many operators we talk to speak highly of having regular feedback discussions with drivers to ensure everyone is up to speed, and of maintaining open dialogue with OEMs who can advise on best practices.

Considering a fleet solution that addresses drivers’ needs and preferences – one that enables them to find charge points, charge their vehicle, and pay for it, knowing they won’t be out of pocket – will help fleet operators and drivers alike prepare for the transition to electric, and ultimately add value to the business as drivers become more comfortable with the adoption of EVs.

Ultimately, managing an electric fleet shouldn’t be different to managing a petrol or diesel fleet. When you look at it from the driver’s point of view, however, this clearly isn’t the case – and drivers’ experience can be very different depending on how they prefer to charge. The fact is, fleets aren’t simple, especially with the added variables of EVs and all they entail. But getting it right from the driver’s perspective should help make everything that much more straightforward.

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