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An EV plan for the future: creating a small business adoption strategy

An EV plan for the future: creating a small business adoption strategy

November 15, 2023

Transitioning from an internal combustion engine (ICE) fleet to a mixed-energy or fully electric convoy of vehicles is no small task. And with increasing pressure from governments, businesses who have yet to even consider electric vehicles are coming up on crunch time.

Of course, there won’t be an overnight ban on ICE vehicles that prevents us from driving them, but as purchase bans ensue, sooner or later, you won’t be able to replace your ICE vehicles with other brand-new ICE vehicles.

Here, we’re talking all about transitioning to an electric- or semi-electric fleet, particularly for small businesses who may not know where to start or if it’s even worth it.

When should you start considering a transition to an electric fleet?

Electric vehicle (EV) is more than just a buzzword. Globally, governments are increasingly pressuring businesses and citizens to transition to EVs, many (U.S. included) going so far as to outright ban the sale of traditional ICE vehicles by 2035.

For example, California’s Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) plan outlines a restriction on gas-powered vehicles — and other states are starting to follow suit. The following states have implemented similar goals to achieve more eco-friendly fleets in the near future:

  • California
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Washington

While these plans won’t necessarily affect businesses’ ability to drive ICE vehicles they already own, it is safe to assume that more strict policies are in the pipeline as we start to move toward a more eco-conscious future.

Beyond the impending restrictions on sales, transitioning your small business’s fleet to a mixed or fully EV roster can help save you money in the long run. 

Now, more than ever, governments and organizations are offering incentives for businesses and individuals who choose to adopt EVs. They seem to understand that purchasing new vehicles is no small expense, and by providing monetary and tax incentives, they hope to help more small businesses transition.

The only question is: how?

How to transition to EVs

While there are plenty more than six steps involved in transitioning your fleet, there are a handful of helpful steps that stand out as some of the most important aspects to get right. Making the move from ICE to EV is a large and complex job, even for the largest and most powerful of corporations. So, when it comes to your small business, it’s nice to have all the help and support you need to ensure a smooth transformation.

1. Evaluate how your current vehicles are being used (assess your needs)

Before you purchase your first EV, there are a few preliminary steps to walk through that can help give you an idea of what it will take to transition. Start by figuring out important metrics, such as your daily mileage, routes, and load capacity requirements. Doing so will help you determine the types and sizes of EVs you will need, which will make the transition easier down the road.

2. Research tax credits and incentives

Small businesses may be working with little capital, which can make transitioning to EVs a bit challenging. Thankfully, there are a variety of tax credits and incentives available to help offset the costs of purchasing a new EV.

Some offerings come with certain eligibility requirements and/or restrictions, so doing your due diligence to find programs that work for your business and EV needs is important. 

One example of such a credit is the Commercial Electric Vehicle (EV) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) Tax Credit, which became available to businesses on January 1st, 2023. This particular incentive offers businesses the following rebates:

  • 15% of the vehicle purchase price for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
  • 30% of the vehicle purchase price for EVs and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
  • The incremental cost of the vehicle compared to an equivalent internal combustion engine vehicle.

3. Understand your current charging infrastructure

EV charging stations are one of the most significant considerations for businesses when looking to transition their fleet. Do you have chargers available to you? Would home charging be an option? Will you have to build a charging station? These are just a few questions to ask yourself before adding an EV to your fleet.

If you need to build, ensure your workplace can support an EV charging station, and consider the installation cost and available incentives for building new stations. For a list of available incentives by state, visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center site. ChargePoint also has a great tool to determine how ready you are to adopt a charging station.

4. Start small

Especially for small businesses, replacing your current fleet in its entirety with EVs, all at once, is unwarranted and unnecessary. Instead, start small by adopting one or two electric vehicles and mixing them in with your existing ICE vehicles (that’s called a mixed-energy fleet). From there, gather data and optimize your strategy to ensure a smooth rollout. When the time is right to fully convert to EVs, you’ll have the insight to make it much easier.

5. Use the EV Fleet Converter tool

Historically, it’s up to your fleet manager and a few data analysts to build out a report that outlines the feasibility, costs, and benefits of electrifying your fleet. Now, it’s easier than ever to gain that insight using the WEX EV Fleet Converter tool.

All you need to do is input some information about your organization and current fleet, and the tool will do the rest.

6. Train your drivers

EVs operate a little differently from traditional ICE vehicles, which means training is paramount to EV fleet success. When training drivers, it’s crucial to cover EV basics such as:

  • Charging best practices.
  • Range management.
  • Maintenance differentiations.

Properly trained drivers will know how to best care for and handle their EV, thereby extending its service life and saving even more money in the long term.

Transition to mixed-energy and EV fleets more smoothly with WEX

Simplify your energy transition with the WEX suite of EV solutions, designed to help get your mixed-energy fleet up and running with little fuss.

Find available stations with our WEX Connect mobile app; initiate secure, touchless charges with a WEX RFID, approve at-home charging sessions, and save time and money with direct driver reimbursement.

WEX speaks the language of small business operators. Whether you’re looking to modernize your insight and reporting efforts, save on fuel costs or take advantage of the latest GPS tracking technologies, WEX offers solutions to simplify the business of running a business. To learn more about WEX, a dynamic and nimble global organization, please visit our About WEX page.

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