With current PEV prices and selection, it is not likely that a PEV will rise to the top of a municipal fleet procurement list based purely on cost. Industry trends, however, indicate that in some use cases PEVs are already lower cost, particularly when lower operating and maintenance costs are taken into account. Many municipalities and other government bodies are taking the opportunity of subsidies available via state or other grants to pilot PEVs to learn how they work in practice. These grants and subsidies may reduce or even eliminate the cost differential, and a selection of models is available to replace traditional gasoline ICE sedans. There are also limited models available for medium- and heavy-duty replacements as well. Please see Determining the First Vehicle to Replace with a PEV and Resources to Purchase PEVs and Charging Equipment.
A decision about whether and how best to incorporate one or more PEVs into a fleet depends on your goals. A municipality that has decided it wants to purchase one or more PEVs regardless of whether it meets cost-effectiveness goals may still wish to evaluate the purchase using its current process for analyzing fleet procurements. This will help assure municipal officials are aware of expected costs, even if they are higher than for other vehicles. Please see Municipal PEV Use Case Studies.
Good management is key to building and maintaining an effective, cost-efficient vehicle fleet. There is a wide variety of software tools that can be used to manage a fleet. At minimum, a spreadsheet should be used to keep track of vehicle costs, age, condition, fuel usage, mileage, and maintenance costs.
Fleet management is a discipline unto itself, and is beyond the scope of this resource kit. However, excellent guidance on rightsizing a fleet is available from the US Department of Energy.
Fleet Procurement Analysis
Analyzing the procurement of a PEV requires taking into account several cost categories that are different from procuring a traditional gasoline internal combustion engine vehicle. These include the cost of electricity and the cost of charging equipment. With funding from the Electrification Coalition, Atlas Policy created a comprehensive easy to use Microsoft Excel®-based tool available to download at no cost. A user guide is available to download from the same site. The description from the Atlas Policy website is reproduced below.
Dashboard for Rapid Vehicle Electrification (DRVE)
Dashboard for Rapid Vehicle Electrification, or DRVE, is a powerful tool that equips users with decision-relevant information on the financial viability and environmental impact of light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicle fleet procurements across an entire fleet. The Microsoft Excel-based tool can evaluate a variety of procurement ownership structures, vehicle types, electric vehicle charging configurations, and many more scenarios.
In a nutshell, the tool allows users to import all fleet vehicles and compare a fleet’s conventional vehicles with an electric vehicle alternative. The analysis compares vehicles on a total cost of ownership basis along with well-to-wheels emissions based on regional electrical grid characteristics.
Another useful resource for selecting or comparing vehicles is a set of US Department of Energy tools. These tools allow the user to learn details of various vehicles (from 1984 to present), directly compare up to four vehicles, customize inputs on fuel cost and miles driven. Unlike the Fleet Procurement Analysis Tool, these tools do not provide any vehicle purchase information. However, the site provides a wealth of information on alternative fuel vehicles, including information on hybrid and electric cars.
Additional information related to the costs of procuring, installing, and using PEV charging equipment is available elsewhere in this resource kit.
Documenting PEV Usage
Municipalities are encouraged to carefully document the usage of the municipality’s first PEV(s). What do municipal employees think of the vehicle’s performance? Are employees noting any problems or benefits? How has PEV charging affected the municipal electricity bill? How many miles has the PEV been driven? Are employees plugging it in? Keeping track of this and other information will help inform the municipality’s future PEV procurement decisions, and can help inform other municipalities considering PEVs.