Let's talk seriously about the autonomy of EVs & Hybrids?

The maximum range of an electric vehicle is still the main concern of the Fleet Managers (GFA). It rightly puts a brake on purchasing, despite the undeniable advantages of EVs. This is why it is necessary to understand the notions of maximum available range and maximum daily range of a vehicle. It is also necessary to explain to drivers what strongly affects actual range. Training even when vehicles are purchased can be useful. All the more so as it can be free of charge! 

Each GFA must therefore ask itself certain questions in order to choose the electric vehicle that is really suited to the company’s activity.

First of all, clearly define your needs. Do you need an electric vehicle with a range of more than 320 km? Would a battery with a shorter range be sufficient? Wouldn’t it be better to convert to partial electric power with a rechargeable hybrid vehicle (or not), given that you sometimes drive more than 600 km in a day? 

It’s a good idea to sit down, talk freely with stakeholders and not be tempted because it’s “in the air”. Make no mistake. These kinds of mistakes are paid for in cash. 

In addition, take into consideration the fact that insufficient range means that vehicles have to return to a base to recharge the battery. This is a waste of time and money for fleets. This concern was justified a few years ago, when the estimated maximum mileage of electric vehicles when drivers were greatly exaggerated. This is less the case today. Let’s not forget, however, that a manufacturer has just decided to be completely transparent about the consumption of its two rechargeable hybrid models! The “new” consumption figures announced are quite different from the first ones. Its small SUV was credited with an average fuel consumption of 1.4 l/100 km for 32 g/km of CO2. It now sees its consumption “climb” to 7.0 l/100 km and 163 g/km if it is not regularly loaded. The second, larger, heavier and more powerful model boasts a fuel consumption range of between 3.1 and 10.4 l/100 km and between 71 and 237 g/km of CO2. 

Thanks to new generations of batteries, electric vehicle manufacturers have increased the range of their models. Many light vehicles are now capable of travelling up to 480 km on a single charge. Despite this progress, range anxiety is often cited as one of the main reasons for slowing down the transition of fleets to electric vehicles.

Why does this anxiety persist?

Because the human factor and the actual technical capabilities of batteries, under normal driving conditions, are often underestimated at the time of purchase. The stated autonomies are often difficult to achieve because driving an electric vehicle is not easy and many factors affect the potential mileage. Depending on the type of driving, speed, cold, air conditioning, heating or comfort features, the stated range can be greatly reduced. Driving adapted to battery optimisation can be learned. In fact, recovering energy during braking is a factor that enables you to drive for longer. In concrete terms, when you brake the car will use the car’s energy to produce electricity and recharge the battery. However, journeys on national roads and, a fortiori, on motorways do not make it easy to recover energy. Think before you complain! 

The best thing to do is to have your employees test the model you are interested in “before you buy” and under real traffic conditions. By including drivers whose usual mileage varies greatly in the test. Realistic GFAs know that you should always go for a model with a double autonomy in relation to the number of kilometres you drive on a daily basis. Otherwise, you’re heading straight for painful surprises! 

We have to admit that today we are witnessing a certain number of disappointments linked to the ignorance of these facts.

One last tip

Get advice from an independent expert! For a small fee, and sometimes even free of charge, you can avoid many pitfalls. Electricity is not “One Size Fits All”. Each company has its own characteristics. Taking this into account avoids turning it into a fiasco, which is an excellent initiative if done well.

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