Electric vehicles are an important part of the future state of mobility and our environment. If your organization is currently utilizing or planning to incorporate alternative powertrain vehicles in your fleet, there should be a detailed section in your fleet policy that speaks to charging requirements, energy reimbursement, usage and more.
Here are some frequent questions we receive from our clients and our consultative direction.
Q: How do I determine who is eligible for an EV?
A: Think about all the factors that may be involved, such as vehicle cost, tax implications and driver’s role. If there are situations where the operator is eligible for an EV, you should also think through and address the situations where they may become ineligible. An assessment tool, such as the EcoWheels EV Assessment, is helpful to build and assess the EV criteria relevant for your fleet. A documented assessment process is valuable to ensure you are remaining consistent and fair in assigning EVs, and that drivers have the right expectations about when they may be eligible. Many will be excited; some may be hesitant. Consistent application will help ensure a positive outcome.
Q: How should I address situations where I must reassign an EV to a new driver?
A: The same considerations that were in place when you first determined EV eligibility are applicable when reassigning. It is important to collaborate with your HR team as there may be information you want to collect or convey during the hiring process about your company’s sustainability initiatives and how the fleet supports it.
Q: Who should be responsible for the payment of the EV charger and installation?
A: This all depends on your organizational structure – it could be viewed as a general business expense, something that is accounted for within the fleet budget or, in rare instances, may be the driver’s responsibility. Wherever the expense is routed, any costs associated with obtaining and installing an EV charger is something that should be socialized with your stakeholders and accounted for in your fleet policy.
Q: What other items should I consider when it comes to EV charger and installation?
A: Here are some additional items that we consider best practice to address in your fleet policy:
Reimbursement for additional expenses: You should expect, and therefore set reimbursement limits for additional expenses to occur during installation such as dry wall replacement.
Charging unit and electrical panel upgrades: This will need to happen from time-to-time, it is best to address in your fleet policy to set expectations upfront.
Hardware appearance: Make it clear what the driver can expect about the look of the hardware and surrounding areas.
Charger ownership: If the driver leaves the organization, consider who is responsible for the charging systems. Some companies are letting the driver keep the charging unit while others want it kept with the vehicle.
Q: What is best practice when it comes to reimbursing for electricity?
A: You will need to address home, public and workplace charging. Your policy should also address personal versus company-time charging. Consider a discussion with HR around how these fit into the overall compensation for drivers.
Some drivers think of electricity the same way they do fuel, and expect some form of reimbursement. However, others may think of it like a utility and assume they are responsible for the expense. It is important to talk with your HR team to gain alignment.
Severa factors can impact the reimbursement amount, including the charger itself, the vehicle’s battery, and the charging location. For example, there are differences in costs of electricity based on driver location, energy provider, and even time of day, so the reimbursement cost is likely to vary.
Q: Are there any taxable benefits to charging a company vehicle at home?
A: Neither the IRS nor CRA has made a change specific to charging a company vehicle at home. Consult with your payroll and HR teams regarding your plans, then include in your fleet policy accordingly.
Q: Should I include expectations around charging behavior?
A: Yes! Wherever your EVs “sleep at night” will need sufficient energy to charge the vehicles. Until mass adoption is achieved, charging locations will not be as prevalent as gas stations. Your policy should clearly state charging best practices to avoid battery issues, roadside events, and charging during peak energy hours.
For EVs that go home with a driver, the vehicle should be charged overnight, which is generally when the lowest energy rates are available. Encourage drivers to precondition the vehicle before they leave to avoid using energy on their HVAC systems, especially in extreme temperatures.
For EVs that are left at a branch location, the expectation should be set that these vehicles start their day with a full charge to achieve maximum range. The timing of the charging will vary in this scenario, depending on available charging stations, capacity, and vehicle schedules.
In either scenario, there is an important consideration to account for when it comes to PHEVs. Due to the availability of the gasoline engine, some drivers may not feel the need to charge since they can always fall back on the gasoline engine. While that is a benefit of a PHEV, it is also one of the downsides. Be sure PHEV drivers can charge their vehicles regularly and reliably, and where possible, provide an incentive for them to do so.