Fleets Use Telematics Data to Help Transition to Electric Vehicles

When managers of commercial fleets are considering transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs), they need to analyze their current vehicles, the jobs they do and whether electric vehicles could do the same. 

That analysis requires data, and the most comprehensive and accurate data comes from vehicles connected to a platform that helps collect and report it. 

“There’s so many variables when you get into the world of EVs,” Erin Cave, director of product management at Verizon Connect, told PYMNTS. “Everyone’s talking about EVs but really getting down to getting them in the field, getting them useful and making sure that you’re optimizing your fleet for the use of them is really a big challenge.” 

Using Data to Determine the Options 

In April, Verizon Connect announced a partnership with Sawatch Labs in which the two companies will perform this kind of analysis for fleets that have more than 10 vehicles. 

When customers opt-in to this service, Verizon Connect will use the data that it collects from the customer’s vehicles through an added piece of hardware as part of its Reveal fleet management solution. The company will pass this along through an application programming interface (API) to Sawatch Labs, which will analyze it and help the fleet develop its EV strategy. 

The analysis of an existing internal combustion engine (ICE)-powered fleet begins with looking at such things as how many vehicles are in the fleet, what types of vehicles are used and how old those vehicles are. The older a vehicle is, the more likely it is to be ready to be replaced with something new. 

The next step includes data that can be gathered by means of telematics. This includes the amount of time the vehicle is in operation each day, the number of miles it is driven, the kinds of roads on which it is used and the weight of the loads it carries. This data will help determine whether an EV could perform the same work and how often it would need to be recharged. 

“That’s really important to understand: Can an EV even service these routes?” Cave said. 

EV Consideration is Fleets’ No. 1 Question 

A final step in the decision-making process considers factors beyond those that can be gathered from the vehicles. This includes the cost of EVs, the cost of charging an EV as opposed to refueling an ICE vehicle, the cost of the wear and tear on the vehicles, the locations of charging stations near where the vehicles would be operating and — with the supply of vehicles constricted by today’s supply chain problems — the availability of EVs that would be appropriate for the job. 

“Fleets are really just trying to figure out, ‘What can I possibly do now, what can I possibly do in the next year and beyond that, how much is it going to cost and when is the return on investment?’” Cave said. 

A large and growing number of fleets are considering moving to electric vehicles. The trend was underway as they strive to meet their environmental targets and gain efficiencies, but it’s been accelerated over the past year by the spike in fuel prices. 

“EV is probably the No. 1 question we get from our customers,” Cave said. “Just in terms of what’s coming next, EV is at the top of the list. They know it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight — they can’t just change out all their vehicles — but they know they absolutely must be thinking about it and focusing on it.”