When people learn what line of work I’m in, one of two things happens. Either they ask me to make predictions about the future of electric vehicles, or they offer up their own. The second scenario is more interesting, so I always hope that’s where the conversation leads. Everyone’s perspective is valuable, and I’ve found that to be especially true when you’re talking about challenges no one has seen before.
Innovation encourages people to put on their futuristic thinking caps. That’s what makes working with cutting-edge technology so exciting. But you won’t hear many jaw-dropping predictions from me. I tend to share the view of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr: “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” Dry humor aside, that’s why any prediction from me is going to come with a heavy dose of what we can learn from the past.
Adopting new technology means changing our compliance standards. This has been true of every technological innovation, from fire to the printing press to the smartphone. Electric vehicles are no different. And where there’s change, there’s opportunity.
So, here’s my not-so-bold prediction: OEMs, dealers, fleet management companies and other companies with EVs in their fleets will gain a competitive advantage by constantly scrutinizing compliance practices.
According to Kelley Blue Book’s parent company, Cox Automotive, EV sales rose 65% in 2022, and total EV sales topped 800,000 for the first time. I expect those numbers to continue to accelerate. In fact, that’s a prediction I’m confident about. Why? Because it’s based on recent history (aka the past). Look at what’s happening around the country.
The first major incentives have arrived, and more are on the way. The recent Inflation Reduction Act dramatically increases incentives for EV ownership and manufacturing. And the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates $7.5 billion to build out a nationwide network of 500,000 EV charging stations. It should come as no surprise that electric vehicle sales and stocks are surging.
And it isn’t just the federal government. At least two states are making particularly bold strides toward electrification. California and New York have both announced that by 2035, all new vehicles sold in their states must be electric. You can find articles by very smart people who have tried to predict whether or not these states will hit that goal. Those articles are interesting, but they are beside the point. The real story is that we’ve hit a turning point.
Regulations and compliance standards steadily evolve in every industry as we learn what works. This will be especially true in the early days of widespread EV adoption because the technology will evolve so rapidly. The most immediate compliance consideration for companies with electric vehicles in their fleets is the need to ensure consistent charging and maintenance.
For example, drivers of fuel-based vehicles often fill their gas tanks whenever possible. But charging to a full 100% can actually wear down the vehicle’s battery over time. Letting the battery get close to 0% also causes damage. Remember when we all used to leave our smartphones charging overnight? Turns out that convenience may not have been worth the damage we did to our batteries. New phones aren’t cheap. And neither are electric vehicles.
Armed with this knowledge, fleet managers have successfully implemented training and compliance protocols that reduce maintenance costs and increase vehicle life. However, many newer EVs now let you manually set a charging maximum to help preserve battery life. This is great news, but it also means reevaluating those previously implemented protocols. How will fleet managers integrate this knowledge on trucking routes that are more sparsely populated with charging stations? Will this new capability affect existing storage best practices when it comes to extreme temperatures?
This is just one simple example, but there will be countless opportunities for OEMs, dealers and logistics companies to maximize their bottom lines by keeping a watchful eye on regulatory and compliance changes. Key focus areas include the following:
- Battery protection and maintenance
- Charging infrastructure maintenance
- Safety regulations (proper labeling, installation, operation, storage, etc.)
- Manufacturer service requirements
- Training protocols
- Tax and reporting requirements (federal and state tax credits, emissions reporting, renewable energy obligations, fuel taxes, etc.)
The most successful businesses will ensure that they meet the requirements to qualify for incentives while using new knowledge to optimize performance in these areas.
Fuel efficiency, cost savings and climate concerns are incentivizing both individuals and companies to go electric. Now an increasing number of businesses are investing in EVs and making them part of their fleets.
As this trend continues to accelerate, organizations will be rewarded for closely monitoring the compliance implications of continued technological innovation. Of course, the compliance and regulatory landscape will grow more complex with widespread adoption. That’s one more reason to invest resources in compliance expertise. They’ll find their way back to your bottom line in the form of reduced costs, responsible safety practices and other competitive advantages.
– Justin Finke, ACERTUS Senior Director of Process Improvement.
Originally published on Next-Gen Transportation News.