Plug In to the Perks of Fleet Electrification

This article was originally published in the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s Rise Up Midwest Call to Action publication.

The transition to electric vehicles provides a significant opportunity to businesses that operate vehicle fleets. Electric cars are more efficient, less polluting, safer, and cheaper to operate than their gas counterparts. Consumers and organizations alike are starting to realize that these benefits are too large to be ignored any longer.

Fleets are making the switch, and for good reason. Not only does driving electric reduce a fleet’s emissions, it is also an excellent way to reduce operating expenses. Powering an electric vehicle can cost half as much as fueling a gas vehicle, and the savings add up quickly, especially when the cars drive a lot of miles. Plus, when fuel expenses are paid through the electricity bill, those expenses can be offset by investing in onsite solar.

Wygo is a grocery delivery service based in Troy, Michigan. They started operations in January 2018 and have 6 all-electric Chevy Bolts. When asked why he chose electric vehicles, founder Mike Theodore said, “Economically, EVs just make sense. It only costs $5 to go 300 miles, and there’s hardly any maintenance.” In addition to the fuel cost savings, electric cars have relatively few parts, which means they never need an oil change and require very little routine maintenance. Fewer repairs and less time spent in the shop means more productivity per vehicle. Theodore went on to say, “Many of the Wygo vehicles are coming up on 100,000 miles and I’ve only had to change the tires.” Theodore also mentioned that he appreciates the fact that his business is environmentally friendly. As a self-professed “car guy” and a businessman, Theodore says, “If I can be convinced to use an EV, anyone can be.”

Other companies are realizing the cost savings benefits of EVs, too. DTE Energy, an energy provider in Southeast Michigan, has electrified 8% of their fleet in order to reduce operating expenses. Emissions are important to DTE too, and Amy Joyce, Director of Fleet Operations, said that, “DTE has had EVs in its fleet for over a decade, and we will continue to electrify our fleet as we progress on our journey to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.” DTE already has a number of different types of electric vehicles including retrofitted electric pickup trucks, passenger vehicles, manlifts, ATVs, and forklifts. And, as the landscape of available options continues to change, they are committed to adding additional electric vehicles.

For a full list of electric vehicles available on the market, check out CALSTART’s Drive to Zero program which has a number of helpful tools, including a vehicle directory where you can browse by vehicle type and make. Fleets can look forward to even more electric vehicles coming to market soon, too. There are at least 5 electric pickup trucks that will drop in the next two years, making it easier than ever for construction vehicles to be electrified. The industry is also expecting a drastic increase in electric delivery vehicles and short haul trucks.

No matter your fleet size, going electric will help save money on fuel and maintenance expenses and improve air quality in the communities you serve. It’s time to plug in to the perks of going electric!

Ford and GM Investing Big in Michigan for Electric and Autonomous Vehicles

Over the past few weeks, Ford and GM announced investments in Michigan manufacturing facilities and new electric vehicle models. Together, they are investing over $3 billion in electric and autonomous vehicle manufacturing in Michigan.

Ford Commits to E-mobility in Michigan, Announces the E-Transit

Ford is investing $850 million into the Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights and the River Rouge Complex in Dearborn to manufacture electric vehicles. All told, these investments will add or retain 725 Michigan jobs. The Van Dyke facility will assemble e-motors and e-transaxles for electric vehicles and the Rouge Plant will produce the all-electric F-150.

Ford also unveiled the E-Transit last week, offering fleets an all-electric option of their popular delivery vehicle. The E-Transit will offer customers software and data services that can help to manage their fleets. The E-Transit release is expected in 2021.

GM is Accelerating EV Investments, Unveils the Hummer EV

GM aims to release 20 electric vehicles by 2023, and thanks to strategic partnerships and technology investments, they are on track to exceed their goal. The Hummer EV was unveiled in late October and is being dubbed “the world’s first supertruck.” The all-electric Hummer is slated to go to production by the end of 2021.

General Motors also announced that they are rebranding their Detroit-Hamtramck plant to “Factory Zero.” GM will spend $2.2 billion to retrofit the facility for zero-emission and autonomous vehicles, and will start calling back workers to the plant in the New Year.

In addition to the Factory Zero investments, GM is also investing $150 million in five additional Michigan facilities. Two of those facilities – Orion Assembly and Brownstown Battery Assembly – will be used to produce self-driving Cruise Vehicles. Cruise is using the Chevrolet Bolt as the basis for their autonomous vehicles.