There’s no doubt that the future is electric. As we continue to move toward an electrified tomorrow, AEP Ohio is taking proactive steps to help businesses and communities charge into the future and explore the electric vehicle (EV) options that work best for them.
The City of Columbus is one such example, having recently transitioned more than 200 of its light-duty fleet vehicles to EV as a part of it’s ongoing sustainability campaign toward the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050, with particular focus on transportation. We spoke with City of Columbus Fleet Administrator Kelly Reagan and Assistant Fleet Administrator John King to learn about their experience and tips for others thinking about a shift to EVs.
Evaluating Your Business
When exploring whether an EV fleet is right for your business, one of the essential first steps is to receive support from your executive leadership. Additionally, the City of Columbus recommends starting small and using data to inform what model will be best for you. Kelly recommends asking yourself these questions if your business is interested in transitioning to an EV fleet:
- Will this help you meet your corporate sustainability goals?
- What level of investment will your business need and how do you plan to accommodate the vehicles operationally?
- Does it make more sense for your business to lease the vehicles or to buy them?
The decision should be based on more than just the vehicles themselves, too. John shared a few recommendations from the City of Columbus’s experience that are important considerations for any company exploring electrification of their fleet: know what tax incentives are available to help your business make the transition, install charging infrastructure before purchasing vehicles, and consider anything that will be directly impacted by the transition – particularly, the people who will be operating the vehicles.
Fostering buy-in with stakeholders is critical to the successful implementation of an EV fleet. With much excitement surrounding the new and ever-evolving technology of electrification, it’s necessary to dispel any preexisting misconceptions employees may have. The City of Columbus worked to address questions around the efficiency and capabilities of these vehicles by encouraging its drivers to experience the benefits for themselves.
“We actually brought in as many EVs as possible and hosted a ride-and-drive event to allow folks to be a part of the process of determining which vehicle would be the best fit for their application. We concluded that for our purposes, we would need vehicles that could drive around 100 miles without needing to be charged,” John explained. “Since they realized the reduction in fuel stops as well as vehicle noise, we’ve received next to no complaints about the EVs.”
Kelly, John and their team also used GPS and other technologies to understand their fleet’s driving habits to ensure that the City of Columbus selected the right vehicles for each job.
Training Your Team
One of the most important things a business must do to prepare its operations is to educate its people. To that end, the City of Columbus partnered with the Municipal Equipment Maintenance Association, OEM manufacturers and the Columbus State Community College Workforce Development program to host trainings. Based at Columbus State, City of Columbus mechanics and technicians were also able to receive college credits on classes covering topics from alternative fuels to basic electrification.
These trainings, in addition to establishing buy-in and evaluating business considerations, all play an important role in making an informed decision when transitioning your business’ fleet to EV and ensuring your organization will have a successful implementation.
“At the end of the day, it’s about making this world a better place for our children and grandchildren,” Kelly explained. Kelly and the rest of the City of Columbus team are looking forward to what the future holds and are excited to continue exploring how to integrate EV into their future, benefiting generations to come.