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Low charging costs reduce lifetime cost of electric vehicle ownership for fleet operators


August 27, 2012
By Anthony Capkun

August 27, 2012 – Faced with pressure to reduce both the cost and environmental impact of their vehicles, Pike Research says fleet managers are seeking the most cost-effective ways to ‘green’ their fleets while ensuring operations continue to run smoothly. While an array of alternative vehicle options are now available on the market, many of them come with high upfront price premiums compared to traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

According to a recent report from Pike (a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice), the low ‘fuel’ (charging) cost of electric vehicles (EVs)—including both plug-in hybrid and battery electric models—brings their total cost of ownership (TCO) to below those of conventional vehicles or other types of alternative fuel vehicles, offsetting the higher average vehicle prices.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) offer the lowest TCO of any of the 17 vehicles compared in the report when taking into account the federal (U.S.) tax credit available for electric vehicle (EV) purchases.

“One of the primary benefits of BEVs is their very high efficiency compared to conventional ICE vehicles,” said senior research analyst Lisa Jerram. “BEVs also offer higher overall fuel efficiency than conventional hybrids and low electric range plug-in hybrids. That’s a major reason why battery electric vehicles have been experiencing a resurgence of automaker and consumer interest over the past few years, particularly for fleet operations.”

Fleet operators are more likely than consumers to focus on the total cost of ownership rather than just the upfront cost, making fleets an attractive early market for electric vehicles, says Pike. Many government and utility fleets, which are often involved in testing vehicles, have already begun implementing Level 2 (up to 19.2kW) charging systems. Nevertheless, many fleet managers continue to see the cost of EV charging equipment as more of a concern than do the auto manufacturers.