With the emergence of anti-idling laws at many municipalities and states alongside with a pressure at a corporate level to go sustainable and meet environmental societal governance (ESG) goals, fleet managers are scrambling to make changes to their fleet to meet compliance and corporate goals.
While converting their fleet to full electric vehicle (EV) may sound like an obvious solution, the huge capital costs of a complete fleet replacement may not be easy to get through. Fleet managers in the commercial work truck industry are seeking cost-effective alternatives to achieve sustainability goals while maximizing their budgets, one population solution that is being implemented are idle mitigation systems or IMS. With recent advancements made in lithium battery systems, technology applied to IMS have garnered attention as a potential middle ground between traditional fossil fuel-powered trucks and full electrification. In this article, we will explore the benefits and considerations of IMS as a budget-friendly alternative to transitioning to fully electric fleets.
The costs of going full electric:
Going full electric with your fleet isn’t just replacing your work truck fleet with electric vehicles, there are also the costs of infrastructures including charging stations as well as retraining your fleet and facility maintenance crew to conduct maintenance.
There have been instances where electric vehicles have gotten into minor accidents and the owners were surprised with a significant repair bill 26X larger than originally estimated simply because the technology is still new, parts are limited and the “building-it-as-we-fly-it” culture within the EV industry means the design of the EV is designed for meeting production quota than serviceability years down the road.
Idle mitigation systems for work trucks, on the other hand, offer a more budget-friendly option and a lot less surprises as fleets are using existing proven vehicles and retrofitting them with idle mitigation systems. This approach allows fleet managers to incrementally adopt sustainable practices while minimizing disruption to their operations.
Considerations for Fleet Managers:
Fleet managers must carefully evaluate several factors before deciding if it is better to go full EV conversion or use IMS for their fleet. These considerations include:
Operational Considerations: Understanding the specific operational needs of the fleet is vital. The duty cycles, routes, and typical idling times of the vehicles should be carefully evaluated to select the most suitable idle mitigation solution.
Maintenance and Training: Fleet managers need to ensure that maintenance personnel are adequately trained to address the unique requirements of idle mitigation systems. Familiarity with battery monitoring, system diagnostics, and potential troubleshooting is crucial.
Cost-Benefit Analysis: Conducting a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis is necessary. Evaluating fuel savings, emission reductions, potential grants or incentives, and the expected lifespan of the equipment will help in making informed decisions.
Technological Maturity/Adoption Levels: EV is still a relatively new technology and its costs for adopting early are still high. Replacement parts may take months to arrive and hiring maintenance crew with the right skillset may be challenging at this time. As costs come down with each subsequent generation of EV, it may be wise to go with a more mature technology such as IMS until the EV has matured more with predictable costs and operational needs.
As municipalities and states increasingly implement anti-idling laws and the electric vehicle market continues to grow, fleet managers in the commercial work truck industry are actively seeking cost-effective alternatives to full electrification. Fleets should not be pressured to pursue the first solution they hear and find themselves stuck with costly hidden costs in maintenance.
Fleet managers should carefully assess the suitability of these technologies for their specific fleet and operational needs, ultimately paving the way toward a more sustainable future for the commercial work truck industry.