Major fleet owners urge smart, rapid build-out of electric vehicle infrastructure

A letter sent to state leaders and the Federal Highway Administration on behalf of the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance and NAFA Fleet Management Association detailed a set of recommendations designed to guide the build-out of cost-effective, equitable, and reliable electric vehicle charging infrastructure, particularly as states look to spend funds from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure  (NEVI) Formula Program, established by the federal Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act. 

“As we confront increasing economic and public health risks due to the climate crisis — as well as volatile petroleum prices — we must ensure rapid electrification of the transportation sector,” said Sara Forni, director of clean vehicles at the sustainability nonprofit Ceres and director of the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance, a group of major companies committed to growing the electric vehicle market in the U.S. “In addition to supporting individual users, ensuring that infrastructure put into place today supports the successful electrification of fleet and networked vehicles, is particularly important, as high-mileage fleet vehicles represent an outsized contribution to emissions.”   

“New chargers must be reliable, equitable, accessible, and provide the power levels that fleets and individual users need to accomplish their business.,” Forni added. “If states choose to act on these recommendations, they will be helping to significantly reduce the local impacts of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, improve air quality, bolster domestic energy security, and strengthen the economy.” 

The 31 companies of the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance, which is coordinated by Ceres and includes companies such as Amazon, Best Buy, DHL, Hertz, and Otis, collectively own, lease or operate nearly 2.5 million on-road vehicles in the U.S. These companies are committed to working together toward a market where electric vehicle models are available to meet commercial and vocational needs, are accessible to all companies, and are cost competitive with internal combustion engine vehicles. The NAFA Fleet Management Association encompasses more than 2,000 individual fleet manager members that include corporations, utilities, and public safety, education, and government agencies – at the national, regional and local levels. The two groups wrote that strategically placed, cost-effective, and interoperable public electric vehicle charging infrastructure will be essential for trips that take fleet operators substantial distances from their fleet depots or homes. 

“NAFA Members support the accelerated transition to EVs, however, understand the importance of real-world factors that must be addressed for transitioning their fleets toward full electrification,” said Bill Schankel, CAE, CEO of NAFA Fleet Management Association. “By working with the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance, we feel we have a true opportunity to represent our members and the industry to ensure that these initiatives are launched in a very informed and realistic manner.” 

The letter calls for infrastructure that not only supports passenger vehicles, but also medium- and heavy-duty trucks, a particular threat to public health. Their diesel fuel combustion is the top source of particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution, emissions that disproportionally impact traditionally low-income and BIPOC communities near fleet depots, major transportation corridors, distribution centers, and ports. It also cites nationwide economic benefits of the transition to electric vehicles — the 2022 American Lung Association State of the Air report, a national shift to 100% zero-emission passenger vehicles by 2035 and 100% medium- and heavy-duty trucks by 2040 would generate over $1.2 trillion in public health benefits by 2050.  

Some of the groups’ recommendations include: 

  • Strategically and equitably siting charging stations to support the largest number of commercial vehicles by analyzing commercial traffic/goods movement patterns and ensuring that sufficient charging is placed near densely populated and/or urban areas. 
  • Locating stations near amenities like bathrooms, restaurants, and other indoor convening spaces. 
  • Separate commercial charging sites for light-duty and medium/heavy-duty vehicles when possible, to reduce operational disruptions. 
  • Standardized charging technology and station designs that support use by medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including those with trailers.  
  • Roaming agreements between networks and simplified, universal payment methods as detailed in previous Alliance advocacy. 
  • Regular maintenance to ensure access and reliability. 

“We urge state transportation and energy agencies to site and design public EV charging infrastructure in a way that spurs EV adoption and enables both individual users and commercial fleet operators to take advantage of the robust benefits offered by vehicle electrification,” the letter concludes. 

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