An image of a dark electric car being charged
5 factors to consider in navigating the transition to electric vehicle fleets
by Hari Nayar

The perceived slowdown in the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in North America doesn't mean companies should pause, slow down or abandon their fleet electrification plans. On the contrary, this is the time to start planning, piloting and maturing a long-term conversion strategy to fleet electrification.

With new regulations requiring the use of EVs coming into effect in the next few years—and with states such as California, Colorado, Massachusetts and at least 10 others looking to phase out internal combustion engines—now is the time to evaluate EVs and consider the many factors of incorporating EVs into your fleet operations. Here are five to consider.

1. The Cost-Effectiveness of EV Fleets

Analyses comparing EVs with equivalent internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles have shown that EV fleets are generally more cost-effective. This conclusion arises from comparing annual mileage, maintenance, financing options and other operational factors. While the upfront costs of EVs are higher, they tend to break even within a few months to a few years. However, this is fleet- and utilization-dependent, so the analysis process can get complicated quickly. Be sure to collaborate with a partner who is capable of providing sophisticated analysis to ensure cost-effectiveness for your unique business case.

2. Impact on End-User Costs

There may be concerns about the cost impact on end-users when adopting EV fleets; however, EVs offer pathways for fleets to optimize costs through lower operating overhead and maintenance expenses, as well as the ability to control fuel costs—all of which result in significantly lower operational costs over the long term.

Sophisticated fleets who adopt a long-term view to optimize operations may even be able to "fix" their electric fueling expense through unique power purchase or service-based agreements with infrastructure partners. EVs are inherently connected vehicles, so using technological tools will allow fleets unprecedented access to real-time fleet operational data, thereby helping ongoing operational optimization. Just as leveraging the real-time use of telematics and data analytics are critical to optimizing EV fleet operations, ongoing strategic planning and lowering or locking in electric fueling costs are also essential to successfully managing fleet efficiency and subsequently impacting end-user costs.

Hari Nayar serves as the vice president of fleet electrification & sustainability at Merchants Fleet, where he helps commercial fleet clients make a seamless and cost-effective transition to electric and alternate fuel vehicles. His role also includes defining the company’s EV market strategy, driving product selection for electric, hybrid & plug-in electric vehicles and developing charging infrastructure deployment solutions. Nayar is also a main contributor to the company’s ESG strategy and road map.

He is an experienced engineer, having led development teams for the U.S. Army Land Warrior program, GM OnStar program, Harris Falcon radio battery & charger development, U.K. Ministry of Defense, and CERDEC integrated fuel cell systems development programs. Most recently, Nayar was vice president of engineering at XL Fleet, where he successfully led the engineering organization in developing the first plug-in-hybrid F150 pick-up truck.

He holds a bachelor of science degree in electronics and communications from the University of Kerala, India, as well as a master of science in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University. He is based in Burlington, Massachusetts. Contact him at (603) 695-9358 or email