Operating Costs - EV Fleet Vehicles

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Operating Costs - EV Fleet Vehicles

In depth research of market reports, trucking industry sites, freight industry sites, and electric vehicle experts did not uncover any data on the operating cost of commercial electric vehicles by class. However, a great deal of helpful findings related to the request were found, including the size of the industry, the unknowns that impact ownership costs, and factors impacting adoption, which have been included below. Where possible, information is provided specific to the different vehicle classes.

Operating Costs for Electric Vehicles

  • Energy costs for electric vehicles (EV) are lower than for traditional gas powered vehicles. If they are used with a solar system, fuel costs can be virtually eliminated.
  • Maintenance costs for EVs can also be less because there are fewer components, and they don't require oil changes.
  • A study published in 2013 outlined the components that need to be considered when determining the total cost of ownership of a commercial electric vehicle with a GVWR of 3.5 tonnes. Although this source is about seven years old, it is relevant as it is only being used to determine the factors to consider.
  • Operating costs that need to be considered when determining total operating costs include insurance, maintenance, battery replacement, tax deductions, and electric costs.
  • The cost of installing charging stations is not considered because that cost would vary based on the size of the fleet that would be utilizing the stations.
  • A story published in 2018 found that the average electric cost at that time was 6.67 cents per kilowatt/hour. To calculate the electric cost for a vehicle, the electric cost is multiplied by kilowatt-hours per 100 miles (kWh/100 miles). The kWh/100 miles can be found on the fuel economy sticker of an electric vehicle, although this does not seem to be required for commercial EVs.
  • A study published by NACFE found that determining the operating costs of electric vehicles is not as straightforward as the methods used for traditional vehicles. This is because there are some items that are hard to quantify such as "emissions credits, brand image, liability costs, disposal costs, indirect costs, driver/technician retention or attraction, potential customers, and other opportunity costs/benefits buried in overhead or ignored in traditional ROI calculations."

Truck Class Definitions

  • Vehicles are classified based on Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, GVWR, which is the maximum loaded weight of the vehicle including the vehicle, gas, passengers, and cargo. There are three broad categories of vehicles, light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty.
  • Light-duty trucks are typically noncommercial vehicles including minivans, cargo vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks. Light-duty includes trucks in classes 1 (max GVWR of 6,000 lbs), 2 (GVWR of 6,001-10,000 lbs), and 3 (GVWR of 10,001-14,000 lbs).
  • Medium-duty trucks are mostly commercial vehicles, although there may still be some large trucks for personal use that fall into this category. Medium-duty includes trucks in classes 4 (GVWR of 14,001–16,000 lbs), 5 (GVWR of 16,001-19,500 lbs), and 6 (GVWR of 19,501-26,000 lbs).
  • Heavy-duty trucks include the largest vehicles, and are made up of class 7 (GVWR of 26,001-33,000 lbs), which includes vehicles such as garbage trucks, street sweepers, and city buses, and class 8 (GVWR of 33,001 lbs or above) which is really severe-duty, and includes dump trucks, cement mixers, and large semis.

Commercial Electric Vehicle Industry

  • In 2019, it was estimated there were 261,000 commercial electric vehicles (CEV) globally. Projections indicate this number will grow to 1.89 million by 2027, which represents a CAGR of 32.7%.
  • The electric van segment, which typically would fall into the light-duty category, is expected to be the fastest growing market, being driven by logistics and ecommerce.
  • Europe is expected to be the fastest growing region in the industry as they lead the way in electric vans and also continue to electrify public transit. Additionally, there are many key players in Europe, including "AB Volvo (Sweden), VDL Bus and Coach (Netherlands), Daimler (Germany), CAF (Spain), EBUSCO (Netherlands), Scania (Sweden), and Emoss Mobile Systems (Netherlands)."
  • Both currently and based on projections to 2027, Asia Pacific holds the largest share of the market, with North America representing only a small share of the overall CEV market.
  • Research and Markets conducted a study where they projected the units of CEVs in North America based on current volume. Using a base number of 2,000 units in 2018, it was projected there would be 22,000 units in 2020; 40,000 in 2025; and 80,000 in 2030. This would represent a market share of about 13%. It should be noted that there were also two other projections made based on what actually happens moving forward in terms of the cost of battery packs, the cost of diesel, and the cost of electricity. The numbers provided here were the scenario Research and Markets believed was the most likely to occur.

Light-Duty EV Trucks

  • One example of a light-duty commercial vehicle is the Hyundai Kona Electric. This vehicle has a fuel economy of 28kWh/100 mi. With the current U.S. average electricity rate of 12.69 cents per kWh, this would result in an operating cost of $3.55 per 100 miles (28kWh x .1269). This is the fuel operating cost only.

Medium-Duty EV Trucks

  • Medium-duty commercial battery electric vehicles (CBEV) can be a good option for applications where travel is less than 100 miles per day, and where the vehicle returns to home base each day. It is expected that early adopters of CEV will be urban delivery trucks in classes 3-6.
  • Changing emissions regulations at both the federal and regional level are increasing the demand for zero, and near-zero, emission vehicles.
  • Because the use of commercial electric vehicles is still in the infancy stage, operating cost estimates have to rely on many projections, estimates, and guesses, and there are many unknowns which complicate the process.
  • Several unknowns which will impact the operating cost of medium-duty CBEVs include the ultimate cost of maintenance for the vehicles, the availability of raw materials for batteries, battery life, climate sensitivity of batteries, and grants and/or subsidies that may be provided for electric fleets.
  • An example of a medium-duty CEV is the Chanje V8100. Unfortunately, the kWh/100 mi for the vehicle was not found publicly, which meant the fuel operating cost per 100 miles could not be directly calculated. However, with a battery capacity of 100kWh, the cost per charge can be calculated as $12.69 (100kWh x .1269).
  • Since the company claims the Chanje V8100 can travel 150 miles on a full charge, the kWh/mile cost can be estimated as $0.0846 ($12.69/150). Multiplying this by 100 provides an estimate of $8.46 kWh/100 mi. This is only an estimate of the fuel cost, and not total operating costs.

Heavy-Duty EV Trucks

  • Heavy-duty trucks face more challenges when it comes to adopting the use of electric vehicles. For example, a report by NACFE that reviewed over 20 factors that need to be considered when making the decision whether to move to electric vehicles for a commercial fleet found that for vehicles in classes 3-6, parity with traditional gas powered vehicles had already been achieved in 11 categories. However, for class 7-8 vehicles, parity had only been achieved in four categories.
  • The Orange EV T-series is a heavy-duty truck as it has a gross combination weight rating (similar to GVWR) of 80,000 lbs. This vehicle has batteries sized to individual needs so it was not possible to estimate the fuel cost.
  • The Orange EV truck also did not provide any information on battery size or the kWh/100 mi rating. However, cost benefits promoted by the company include savings of up to 90% on fuel, and annual savings of $30,000-$60,000 on fuel, maintenance, and emissions control.

Research Strategy

We began our research for data on the operating cost for various classes of trucks on trucking sites, freight industry sites, and sites with a focus on electric vehicles. The sites examined included Inside EVS, Heavy Duty Trucking, and North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). While this search did uncover some data on estimating operating costs for the various broad categories of trucks, specifically medium and heavy-duty, there was no data found specific to the operating costs by truck class.

We also conducted a search for market reports on the commercial electric vehicle industry as we hoped that analyses of the market would include details on the cost of operating these fleets. While this did allow us to find a report from Research and Markets on the adoption of commercial electric vehicles, as well as a report from Markets and Markets on the size of the CBEV industry, there were no details on operating costs broken out by class.

Since research did not find any publicly available information on the total operating costs by class, we pivoted to attempt to see if the data was available to triangulate an estimate for each class. This would require finding the costs associated with several factors including insurance, maintenance, battery replacement, electric, and tax deductions. It was quickly determined that this process would not be feasible, as determining things such as insurance and electric costs would be heavily dependent on location, as well as the history of the driving record of the company looking to purchase insurance.

It is likely that the data requested on operating costs is not publicly available because the use of electric vehicles in the commercial space is still relatively new. Additionally, as described above, determining operating costs are not straightforward are there are many factors to consider that can't be directly quantitated.