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mixed energy EV fleets

EVs for small business: Potential for long-term savings and one source of truth

November 8, 2023
by Jay Collins

As reported by McKinsey & Company earlier this year, production of electric vehicles (EVs) in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) category is expected to experience a significant upswing in the coming months, providing small businesses ever more options as they strategize about building out a mixed-energy fleet. With the total cost of ownership for EVs expected to outperform traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2025 and mounting pressure on businesses to decrease their carbon footprint, small businesses are increasingly developing EV adoption strategies and adding EVs to their commercial vehicle fleets. I was honored to speak recently as part of a panel entitled “Evolution of Fleet Payments” at the Fleet Forward Conference where we are covering a broad range of fleet topics including many of the topics discussed here in this article. I’m sharing them with you now because they are fundamental to how we all will need to move forward building our commercial vehicle fleets of the future.

Mixed-energy: The near future of commercial vehicle fleets

As we enter a new era of transportation, one thing seems certain: the future will not be solely dominated by a single energy source. The push for electrification has undoubtedly gained momentum, but the presence and reliability of ICE vehicles cannot be ignored. This transitional phase towards a more sustainable future will feature a mixed-energy fleet, where ICE vehicles and EVs coexist. It’s a symbiotic dance of technology, requiring an integrative approach from all stakeholders, especially from those in the fueling industry.

The realities of a mixed-energy fleet

Over the next decade, while the adoption rate of EVs is expected to rise, ICE vehicles will still hold significant market share. Many factors contribute to this:

  • Use cases: There are many use cases illustrating the practicality of a commercial EV fleet — one example is a team of sales reps all driving less than 200 miles per day and returning home to the same address every night. There are also use cases that favor ICE vehicles – an example of this is a fleet of heavy duty F350s towing dump trailers each day on unpredictable routes. As infrastructure improves and the EV market expands, more EV use cases will become feasible.
  • Infrastructure: Charging infrastructure for EVs is still in its nascent stage in many parts of the world. Until it can match the convenience and ubiquity of gas stations, ICE vehicles will continue to be a practical choice for many.
  • Economic Factors: While the price of EVs is becoming more affordable, the initial cost is still higher than many ICE vehicles. Moreover, in regions where governments haven’t provided incentives for EVs, consumers might lean towards the more economical ICE option. In fact, journalists Alexa St. John and Nora Naughton, in a recent Business Insider article reported that in last week’s GM “third-quarter earnings call, Barra (CEO Mary Barra) and GM struck a more sober tone. The company announced with its quarterly results that it’s abandoning its targets to build 100,000 EVs in the second half of this year and another 400,000 by the first six months of 2024. GM doesn’t know when it will hit those targets.”

An imperative for fuel card providers

To prepare for the increase of mixed energy fleets, fuel card providers need to evolve. They must make significant technological advancements and adapt to the changing landscape. Here’s what’s at stake:

  • Technological Advancements: Traditional fuel card providers will need to adapt and embrace the energy transition. This requires investment in the technology necessary to ensure that customers can easily use fuel cards when operating a mixed-energy fleet. 
  • Data Integration: With the rise of smart vehicles, data plays a pivotal role. Fuel card companies will need to integrate data analytics to predict demand, manage supply chains efficiently, and ensure smooth operations. This could mean forecasting when and where charging stations will be most needed and helping utilities strategize on how to optimize power usage during peak times.
  • Commercial Experience: The experience of ‘refueling’ an EV differs from filling up a gas tank. By educating your drivers on not just the charging process but also the payment system and how it will be used, fuel card companies will ensure that the transition drivers and fleet managers experience is as seamless as possible.

Forging New Partnerships

The integration of EVs alongside existing commercial vehicles requires more than just technological upgrades; it demands a whole new set of partnerships:

  • Automakers: Fuel card companies should collaborate closely with automakers to understand vehicle specifications, charging requirements, and consumer needs. This ensures compatibility and caters to the specific needs of each vehicle model.
  • Utility companies: As the demand for electricity surges with more EVs on the road, fuel card companies must form partnerships with utility providers. This ensures a consistent power supply, optimized pricing structures, and, ideally, the integration of renewable energy sources.
  • Tech companies: In an increasingly digital age, software solutions are crucial. Whether it’s for payment integration, data analysis, or station management, tech companies play a pivotal role in the new-age fueling experience.
  • Government and policy makers: Regulations, incentives, and infrastructure development will largely be driven by government policies. Fuel card companies need to remain engaged with policy makers, pay attention to policies as they are being developed, and stay at the forefront of decision-making to shape a conducive environment for the mixed-energy fleet future.

The way forward with a mixed-energy fleet

The transportation landscape is shifting. But rather than viewing it as a replacement of ICE vehicles by EVs, we should envision a future where both will be used. Incorporating EVs is an opportunity for innovation, collaboration, and creating a more sustainable and inclusive future.

Fuel card companies stand at the forefront of this transformation. By embracing technological advancements, fostering new partnerships, and reimagining the commercial fleet experience, they can pave the way for mixed-energy fleets. As we gear up for this change, one thing is clear: adaptation and collaboration will be the keys to success.

The new era of fleet fueling: The push for integrated technology

In today’s rapidly changing transportation landscape, the emergence of diverse energy sources for fleet vehicles poses both challenges and opportunities. EVs and hybrids are becoming staples in small business and government fleets across industries. But with diversity comes complexity. Small businesses and government fleet managers grapple daily with the daunting task of juggling multiple apps, credit lines, invoices, and interfaces to fuel their multifaceted fleets.

However, the future of fleet fueling is evolving with the growing desire for technology that can integrate all forms of fleet fueling. Let’s delve into the reasons behind this need and the benefits of adopting such integrated solutions.

Streamlining operations for your small business, large private fleet, or government fleet

Every minute fleet managers spend shuffling between apps and software tools is a minute lost in productivity. With a unified platform, operations can be streamlined, allowing managers to focus on more strategic tasks rather than administrative intricacies. The ability to see all fueling data in one place expedites decision-making and ensures smooth fleet operations.

Financial efficiency for your small business, large private fleet, or government fleet

Handling separate credit lines and invoices for each energy source is not just cumbersome but can also lead to financial inefficiencies. It’s easy to miss out on discounts, rebates, or favorable terms if you’re juggling multiple payment methods and accounts. With a singular account for mixed-energy fleet fueling, managers can negotiate better terms, track expenses more effectively, and potentially save costs in the long run.

Enhanced data analysis for your small business, large private fleet, or government fleet

For fleet managers, understanding fuel consumption, costs, and vehicle performance is paramount. An integrated fueling system can offer detailed analytics and insights that are not easily attainable with fragmented solutions. This cohesive data analysis can pave the way for better budgeting, vehicle maintenance, and even route optimization.

Sustainable Growth for your small business, large private fleet, or government fleet

As businesses and government entities aim for greener operations, the fleet mix is bound to grow more diverse. Embracing a solution that can accommodate all energy sources ensures that as new technologies emerge or fleet compositions change, the fueling infrastructure is already set up to handle those changes. This makes scaling and evolving your fleet of commercial vehicles far more efficient and cost-effective.

User Experience for your small business, large private fleet, or government fleet drivers

For the business or government fleet drivers on the ground, transitioning between different systems can be confusing and time-consuming. An integrated approach ensures a uniform experience regardless of the fuel type. This not only reduces the learning curve for drivers but can also improve their overall job satisfaction, knowing that the back-end complexities of their work are efficiently handled.

The future of mobility: How a truly integrated mixed-energy fleet operates

In today’s rapidly advancing technological landscape, small businesses and government fleets are aiming for sustainability and efficiency. But what does a truly integrated mixed-energy fleet experience look like, and why is it the next big thing in fleet management? Let’s delve deeper.

Integrated systems and reporting: Getting beyond juggling multiple cards

Traditional fleet management often relied on keeping cards on file, which required manual tracking and led to many inefficiencies. The new age of mixed-energy fleets brings in automated, integrated systems that combine real-time data from all vehicles, irrespective of their energy type. This holistic approach offers a consolidated view of fleet operations. It means fleet managers can now monitor fuel consumption, energy usage, maintenance schedules, and other key metrics in one unified dashboard. No more juggling between different software or spreadsheets – the future is about seamless integration.

Access to quality chargers: An electrifying shift

As EVs become more prevalent in fleets, the need for reliable and efficient charging infrastructure becomes paramount. The best integrated mixed-energy fleet card provider ensures that your EVs have access to quality chargers. This not only extends the range and performance of the vehicles but also helps in reducing “range anxiety” for drivers. The chargers should be strategically placed, ensuring that vehicles can be charged during off-peak hours or when they are not in active use, maximizing efficiency and reducing operational costs. Whether at home, at a depot, or at a charging station, your drivers need to feel secure.

Level III transaction insights for your small business, large private fleet, or government fleet

Level III transaction data is the gold standard when it comes to transaction insights. In the context of mixed-energy fleets, this means getting detailed data on every transaction, including the type of fuel or energy used, the quantity, the price, the location, and even the time of day of the purchase. These granular insights enable fleet managers to optimize routes, reduce costs, and make more informed decisions about vehicle maintenance and replacements. For instance, if a particular EV charging station offers a better rate during certain hours, routes can be adjusted to take advantage of these cost-saving opportunities.

The integration of mixed-energy fleets is more than just a fusion of various energy types. It represents a holistic shift in how we perceive and manage the mobility of our commercial vehicles. By leveraging advanced technologies, small businesses and government fleets can ensure sustainability, efficiency, and security in their operations. As we look to the future, it’s clear that the truly integrated mixed-energy fleet experience is set to transform the world of transport, offering unparalleled benefits, and contributing to a greener future.

Charging en route, in depot, and at home all on one account

In a world rapidly moving towards the adoption of mixed-energy fleets, fleet managers have expressed the need for a simplified solution to address their varying fueling and charging needs. This evolving challenge requires an integrated approach to offer seamless charging and fueling options across the board. The essence of this vision revolves around a unified system where charging en route, in the depot, and at home can be managed through one consolidated account.

Unified access for diverse driver needs for your small business, large private fleet, or government fleet

Imagine a commercial vehicle that begins its day at the depot, travels through multiple routes during the day, and eventually concludes its journey at the employee’s residence. At each of these stops, there’s a potential need for refueling or charging. An innovative approach would ensure that whether it’s a traditional fueling station, a highway-based rapid charger, or a home-based charger, users can access, charge, and manage their expenses from a singular platform.

This unified access is crucial for businesses that operate mixed-energy fleets. Managers would no longer have to grapple with multiple accounts, invoices, and monitoring systems. Every refueling or charging action, irrespective of its location or energy source, would be recorded and billed through one system. This not only simplifies administrative tasks but also streamlines budgeting and expenditure tracking.

Addressing the ICE and EV conundrum for your small business, large private fleet, or government fleet

The world stands at a crossroads, with both ICE vehicles and EVs vying for space. While electric vehicles will help mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change, internal combustion engines still hold a significant share in the commercial market due to their longer ranges and quicker refueling times. For businesses and government fleets, this means maintaining a balanced fleet to harness the strengths of both types.

WEX’s vision is particularly transformative in this context. By providing a unified solution, WEX aids businesses in transitioning smoothly through this period of energy flux. Companies can slowly integrate EVs into their fleets, assured that the infrastructural needs of both ICE vehicles and EVs are well taken care of.

While businesses undoubtedly benefit from this integrated approach, the real winners are the end-users, the drivers themselves. With an integrated system they will no longer need to carry multiple cards, remember various account details, or be concerned about which charging point is compatible with their company’s system. With WEX’s one-account solution, drivers can confidently embark on their journeys, knowing that they are backed by a network that supports their vehicle’s energy needs, no matter where they are.

In summary, the vision of managing charging en route, in the depot, and at home all on one account isn’t just about technological integration. It’s a philosophy that emphasizes ease and efficiency. WEX serves as a beacon for other industry players, highlighting the importance of adaptability and the relentless pursuit of innovation in a rapidly evolving sector.

With over 600,000 commercial fleet customers worldwide and nearly 19 million vehicles serviced globally, WEX is simplifying and integrating its products and networks to accommodate ICE, EV, and mixed-energy fleets.

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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