PLUG OK license plate
Electrification Coalition Touts Fleets (and Fleet Conversions)
Nov 12, 2010 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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The Electrification Coalition has been very successful in organizing corporate executives, military officers and many others to support accelerated adoption plug-in cars for the economic and energy security benefits. Now EC has just released a new "Fleet Electrification Roadmap." It proposes steps to increase market penetration in private and public fleet vehicles of "GEVs" (Grid Electric Vehicles, including EVs and PHEVs). Below we include links to the report. Plus we are very gratified to see the report's acknowledgment of the value of large-scale conversions, and news of Fedex activities on conversions; we include that text from the report.

GET THE REPORT: We encourage you to read the entire Fleet Electrification Roadmap; it's loaded with nuggets of hard-to-find data and smart analyses. You can read the press release and download it in several formats (and earlier EC publications), starting at

IF YOU LIKE THAT ONE, SEE OUR TAKE ON THE EC'S PREVIOUS REPORTS at April 8 2010: "Electrification Coalition Report: 1.9 Million Jobs from Plug-In Cars & Other Benefits," and January 25, 2010: " 2009's Best Strategy/Analysis: Electrification Coalition's Roadmap," and by all means, read them too!

COALITION MEMBERS GE, FEDEX JUMPING ON BOARD: Last week, you read everywhere that General Electric will purchase 25,000 plug-in cars in the next five years for its own fleet. The company is moving into the business of selling charging systems as well. Federal Express has been a strong supporter of plug-ins for years. (The report shows Fedex with the fourth largest commercial fleet (p.142), not including tens of thousand of airport vehicles.

Fedex CEO Fred Smith, speaking at the briefing for the release of this report, talked at length about the company's efforts. It caught our attention when he said the company hasestablished a significant project to explore ways to retrofit many of their vehicles. We hope more companies will follow their lead, bringing more customers to the emerging companies in the conversion business (see ).

EC FLEET ROADMAP LOOKS AT CONVERSIONS. This represents a major recognition of the importance of the conversion strategy. We do regret, first, that the action agenda from the report did not include any measures to develop or incentivize conversions -- it's still up to the emerging companies cited but not identified to prove their case! And with the federal government, prompted by the $50M campaign by T Boone Pickens, increasing support for natural gas conversions of large vehicles (costing more and producing fewer long-term economic and emissions benefits), we look forward to the time when safe, validated, warrantied conversions will receive equivalent incentives. Here are the report's findings:

For some fleet operators that are able to hold onto vehicles for an extended period of time, drivetrain conversions may provide a relatively lower cost option for utilizing PHEV or EV technology. A conversion simply replaces the existing ICE powertrain with a new EV or PHEV powertrain; the rest of the vehicle is retained. Therefore, conversions are likely to be most appropriate for heavily depreciated assets.

PHEV or EV conversions could fit within the operational norm for some companies today. For example, in certain service applications, calendar lifespan of a typical vehicle can be in excess of eight to 10 years. In instances where these vehicles also log high miles--waste removal trucks, for example--fleet operators today sometimes opt for a drivetrain replacement rather than incurring the cost of purchasing a new vehicle.

A number of companies today are marketing PHEV or EV drivetrains as standalone products for both consumer and commercial conversions. While the consumer market may have potential, the value that many drivers place on vehicle appearance and age may limit the size of the overall conversion market. However, in fleet applications that derive utility from maximizing the operational lifespan of a vehicle, PHEV and EV powertrain conversions could represent a significant cost savings. The marginal cost of an electric drivetrain compared to an ICE drivetrain is likely to be less than the marginal cost of replacing a complete ICE vehicle with an electric drive vehicle. Yet the fuel savings-potential of GEV conversion is essentially the same as a new asset. Fleet operators who opt for conversions will have a smaller upfront investment to pay back, but will benefit from the same operational cost savings as operators who purchase their vehicles new.

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