Fleet Managers are increasingly finding themselves at the forefront of the shift towards electric vehicles (EVs), with industry and company ESG directives, and government incentives, driving the change.
As EVs become more prevalent in commercial fleets, it’s essential for fleet managers to understand the nuances of EV maintenance and servicing. Unlike traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, EVs come with their own set of maintenance requirements and considerations.
You don’t need to worry about oil filters and spark plugs, but there are several new things to keep careful track of. Here are the key aspects of EV maintenance and servicing to help fleet managers optimise the performance and longevity of their electric fleets.
The heart of any electric vehicle is its battery pack. Proper maintenance and care of the battery are paramount to ensure the vehicle’s longevity and performance. Fleet managers should monitor the State of Charge (SOC), the battery condition and the firmware. To manage SOC, implement charging protocols to ensure cars are charged and ready when needed. Avoid leaving EV batteries empty or full for extended periods, as this may cause degradation.
All EV batteries will degrade slowly over time, decreasing range. All servicing should include a check of the battery condition to monitor this degradation and any faults in the battery cells. Any accident damage to the vehicle or battery requires immediate servicing, as battery damage can cause fires long after an incident takes place.
Keep the vehicle’s firmware up to date, as manufacturers often release updates to optimise battery management systems.
Tyres play a crucial role in the efficiency and safety of an EV fleet. Proper tire maintenance can lead to energy savings and enhanced vehicle safety. Different weight and weight distribution of an EV can alter wear patterns on tyres. Ensure that tyres are properly inflated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and rotate tyres regularly to distribute wear evenly, extending their lifespan and improving handling.
Consult manufacturer guidelines regarding low rolling resistance tyres, as they can help maximise range and energy efficiency.
One of the benefits of EVs is regenerative braking, which recovers energy during deceleration. However, the traditional friction brakes still require maintenance. Fleet managers should monitor brake pads regularly, and encourage drivers to use regenerative braking techniques to maximise energy efficiency and reduce wear on the friction brakes.
Electric motor and drivetrain
EVs have fewer moving parts than traditional vehicles, which can reduce maintenance needs. However, fleet managers should still schedule regular inspections for signs of wear or damage.
Ensure any in house or contracted technicians are trained in EV-specific servicing procedures to handle any potential issues effectively.
EV charging infrastructure
The in-house charging infrastructure may fall under the jurisdiction of Fleet Managers or that of company asset or building managers. Speak with your team and management to define responsibilities.
Ensure charging infrastructure is safe and appropriate for efficient charging and energy management, particularly as EV fleet numbers increase. This is important for any at-home charging taking place for company vehicles as well.
Consultation with Fire Safety, and Occupational Health and Safety Officers should be carried out, and any power point chargers or cables used in the workplace, at home, or kept in vehicles must be regularly tested and tagged as per other electrical equipment. All EV charging equipment should be serviced by trained electricians as per manufacturers guidelines.
Training and safety
To ensure the smooth transition to fleet EVs, it’s important to train all staff in the safe use of EVs, the correct charging protocols and etiquette, and fire safety. This may involve drive days, video tutorials or manuals, all of which may require revision as new vehicles enter the pool or new staff join the user base.
Whether charging cars on site or not, fire safety plans should be updated to reflect the EVs in the fleet, and any training manuals for vehicle use and emergency procedures need to be kept current.
Electric vehicles offer numerous advantages for Fleet Managers, including reduced operating costs and lower environmental impact. However, to reap these benefits, it’s crucial to implement a robust maintenance and servicing plan tailored to the unique needs of EVs.
By following the guidelines outlined in this article, fleet managers can ensure the longevity, efficiency, and safety of their electric fleets, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable and cost-effective transportation solution.