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Electrocars in the fleet: What challenges await carriers?

Electromobility, the global megatrend of our time, is increasingly making its presence felt in the commercial road transport (CRT) sector. The pressure to reduce emissions is affecting not only manufacturers but also hauliers themselves. The operation of battery-powered vehicles poses specific challenges and demands.

Electrocars in the fleet: What challenges await carriers?

Although electromobility is still in its infancy in commercial road transport, the potential it offers is already huge. Data shows us that 90% of transport orders are for journeys of less than 300 km. Moreover, these journeys account for almost half of the kilometres travelled by road freight transport as a whole. The first generation of electric trucks offers a range of 200 to 300 km. It follows that battery-powered truck technology can already handle a large proportion of transport orders.

Nevertheless, carriers cannot be expected to send their existing diesel vehicles to the scrap heap. Nor is there any reason to do so - given the state of the charging infrastructure, it is mainly short-haul electric trucks that are being put into service.  Long-distance transport is still only a plan for the future. Diesel vehicles are therefore likely to retain their dominance here for some time to come. Transport companies are therefore looking forward to a period of so-called hybrid (or mixed) fleets, where they will gradually implement battery-powered vehicles into their current fleets.

Fleet electrification presents new challenges

Battery-powered vehicles place new demands on fleet managers, dispatchers and logistics company owners. The main criteria to work with include the acquisition cost of electric trucks, estimation of the range per charge, overview of charging options, construction of charging points in company garages/depots, cooperation with customers and the possibility of charging during unloading, the cost of vehicle insurance, toll charges or even the residual value of the electric truck.

But common operational issues also come into play, for example: how to implement recharge payments into corporate systems? How to adapt vehicle operation and maintenance to battery health requirements? How to prepare drivers to operate electric cars? How will the season affect range? 

Traffic data is the key 

In order to operate mixed fleets efficiently, carriers will need the right tools, such as telematics and digital fleet management platforms. Indeed, the very decision on whether and how to electrify their fleets depends heavily on real traffic data. This is the basis for calculating how electrification can save costs and what the return on investment is.

In addition, the right tools can make fleet operations more efficient in many ways: they allow drivers to refuel or recharge conveniently and quickly, simplify the administrative burden, and track important data about traffic (hours worked, driving style of drivers, current vehicle range) and vehicles (charge level, battery capacity and status). It is the ability to collect the right data and feed it into the right systems that determines how quickly and efficiently a haulier can reap the undeniable benefits of electromobility. Eurowag, Europe's leading provider of integrated road transport solutions, can, for example, analyse your fleet and its appropriate phased electrification based on real data.

The right tools bring greater efficiency and savings

The need for new solutions to make it easier for carriers to electrify their fleets and manage hybrid fleets is being recognised by more and more companies. Eurowag has therefore developed the EVA platform. This on-board unit combines powerful telematics, toll payment and a patented anti-fuel theft system. 

Thanks to solutions like EVA, transport companies have the key information they need to operate efficiently. In the case of battery-powered vehicles, this includes the aforementioned state of charge, battery health, estimated time to full charge and many other useful data points. Advanced telematics allows transport operators to analyse the data and draw conclusions about traffic - either in real time or through long-term statistics. This information helps to optimize the operation of a hybrid (or any other) fleet, making it more efficient and cost-effective.

Wondering what specific parameters telematics can monitor in electric trucks? Want to know more about freight electrification and total cost of ownership (TCO)? Read the report Electromobility in the commercial freight segment. You can download it on the Eurowag website.

Media contacts:

Zuzana O‘Brien