Managing Electric Vehicles in Commercial Fleets Requires New Payments, Reimbursements and Insights

Commercial EV Management Needs New Payments, More

As businesses add electric vehicles (EVs) to their fleets, they’re learning that there are some new challenges beyond those they face with their existing vehicles

Among these are the issues of range anxiety, reimbursing employees who charge company vehicles at home, measuring sustainability and reporting on key performance indicators that are different from those of fuel-powered vehicles.

“We’re uncovering a lot of this complexity as we go along, and it just gets deeper and deeper,” Keagan Russo, president of Fuelman and North America Local Fleet at FLEETCOR, told PYMNTS.

Fuelman, which has provided fuel cards to businesses since 1985, launched a new solution for EVs Jan. 12. The EV solution can be a physical card or virtual card and can be added to a customer’s existing fleet card.

Charging EVs Presents New Challenges

When fleets add EVs, there are four things fleet managers need to solve, Russo said.

One is range anxiety. The infrastructure for charging is not as robust as that for fuel, so fleet managers need to ensure that drivers can get where they need to go without being stranded and can pay for charging at public stations. To help solve this, the Fuelman EV solution can be used within any charging network where Mastercard is accepted.

“The thing about the Fuelman solution is we’re charging station agnostic,” Russo said. “We have a relationship with Mastercard, and we’re able to leverage that universal acceptance network with each one of the relevant charge providers.”

Another challenge is reimbursing employees who charge company vehicles at their homes. To solve this, Fuelman has partnered with Motorq, a connected-car data and analytics company, to create a home reimbursement engine. Motorq captures charge event data directly from EVs, recording the charging event, charger type and location.

“So, we’re getting charge data directly from the vehicles themselves,” Russo said. “We’re able to do that and bump them up against state and local utility rates to have a very good estimate of what the expense of charging that fleet vehicle is at someone’s home. We also have the kind of payment infrastructure to be able to facilitate the payments to your employees as well.”

Tracking Sustainability and Other Insights

A third challenge that fleet managers must consider is sustainability. Russo said Fuelman looked at the websites of its 100 largest customers and found that 95 of them include sustainability or carbon emissions goals. To help with this, Fuelman offers the carbon offset program it has had in place for years.

“We facilitate and automate carbon offsets for the emissions produced by your fleet vehicles,” Russo said.

The fourth issue fleet managers face is applying the same integrated reporting and controls that fleets are accustomed to with their existing vehicles to the new EVs. EVs require their own key performance indicators, such as how efficiently the driver is operating the vehicle and whether they’re charging on route when they could have used a cheaper alternative. For this, Fuelman has EV dashboards that are available alongside the standard reporting, in the same portal.

“With the data that we have, we know where the vehicle is and we know when charging events happen, how much charge was used, what level of charge was still in the vehicle, so we can see things like, ‘Hey, your driver spent 20 minutes fast charging in the middle of the day when they were only 15 miles from the depot or their home,’” Russo said. “So, insights like that, we can pull from the data.”

Making Switching to EVs an Easier Journey for Fleets

The addition of this EV solution follows on the heels of Fuelman’s strategic partnership with CarAdvise, a digital marketplace for vehicle maintenance and repair.

Read more: SMBs Reap Savings, Shed Headaches by Outsourcing Fleet Vehicle Fuel and Maintenance

“Over the last several years, we’ve begun to think more and more of ourselves as a fleet program, not just fuel,” Russo said. “The CarAdvise partnership is a good example of our move into expanding the services we provide for more fleet categories.”

With the new EV solution, Fuelman is working with other stakeholders such as eMobility service providers, charge point operators, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and data aggregators to help fleet managers think through problems they may not have considered yet because they are handling EVs for the first time.

“I think that we’ve chosen a path to solve these four core problems that has staying power,” Russo said. “It’s something that will really help make going green and switching to EVs a much easier journey for them.”