Transformation at Scale: Four EV Fleet Predictions for 2023
EV adoption reached a new high in 2022. With uptake recently passing a critical threshold, dozens of new EV models are hitting the market as major fleet operators double down on electrification. At the same time, public policy breakthroughs, led by the Inflation Reduction Act, are helping make EVs affordable and accessible to all. Even amid a backdrop of economic uncertainty, the future for electrified fleets and cleantech looks brighter than ever.
Looking forward, the roadmap to wide scale adoption is beginning to unfold. Early adopters are sprinting ahead with new investments and strategic partnerships while former holdouts launch ambitious new projects. Still, challenges remain, and the stakes for the environment and society are as high as ever.
What does the new year hold for EV fleets and sustainable mobility? Here are my four predictions for 2023:
- Slow and steady won’t win the race to electrify
In 2023, we will see leaders going all in on electrification. A few years ago, EV programs were often small-scale experiments motivated by corporate responsibility initiatives. But while sustainability commitments still matter, performance and cost considerations are now driving action. Looking forward, the world’s major organizations and companies will focus on how to go electric at scale rather than debating whether they should.
For fleet operators, the race to decarbonization is already on its third lap. We anticipate more developments like our partnership with Hertz, where we joined forces to begin building a network of charging solutions to serve the largest rental fleet of electric vehicles in North America. Light-duty fleets like these are moving quickly, but medium and heavy-duty operators are also developing large-scale charging solutions. And not just as pilot projects — the leading companies are aiming to place a larger stake in the ground to shape the electrified transportation ecosystem.
Increasingly, these efforts will take place at a national or global level, even reaching traditionally underserved industries and geographies. We’ve also collaborated with Producers Dairy in California’s Central Valley, to support their deployment of electric trucks in an area with some of the worst air quality in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Meanwhile, companies like Amazon and Domino’s are quickly expanding pilots to decarbonize delivery and other core operations. And with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and other measures, policymaking is opening electrification to new geographies, industries, and communities.
2. An economic downturn makes the case for electrifying fleets
The conversation around electric transportation in 2023, like most things, will be framed by the shifting macroeconomic picture. In the past, a downturn might have reduced EV investment because electrification wasn’t considered business-critical. Now, not only are the economics increasingly aligned with EVs when considering aspects like vehicle maintenance and energy cost savings, but many are also finding that going electric can blunt the impact of a recession and inflation.
Next year, corporate belt-tightening will open doors to new investments in electrification. More and more C-suite transportation decisions will be based on questions of resilience and long-term efficiency, not upfront vehicle costs. For example, our work with Red Hook Terminals revealed an 81% reduction in fuel costs after just the first quarter of operations. After unprecedented volatility in fuel prices, companies can find lower and more predictable energy costs through electrification.
Efforts to reap EV cost and efficiency benefits will also create new collaborations. As the scale and pace of investments grow, fleet operators will be looking to stay current with the help of like-minded partners. This dynamic explains the growth of initiatives like the Sustainable Freight Buyers Alliance, in which companies like PepsiCo and Unilever work together to support freight decarbonization and monitor progress. As the business case becomes even more evident, more fleet operators will join these knowledge-sharing platforms to keep up or even leapfrog ahead.
3. EV leaders are laying the foundation for the future of energy infrastructure
In many ways, the future of EV charging has yet to be defined, but it won’t remain that way for long as early adopters move beyond the pilot stage to add hundreds and thousands of EVs to their fleets. This is further supported by the fact that more and more states are passing laws banning the sale of gas-powered vehicles within the next ten years.
Building EV charging is not as simple as replacing pumps with plugs. It takes on average 15–20 minutes for a light-duty EV to recharge, and even longer for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. That means providing a vision for charging infrastructure that goes beyond the five-minute fill-up. Future charging stations will likely be designed to cater to the driver’s experience while waiting, so innovators are already thinking of charging stations built around amenities and greenspaces. Purpose-built charging was one of the motivators behind our inspiration for the Gigahub network, a series of large, EV fast-charging hubs designed to serve ride-hail and taxi fleets at high-demand locations across the nation.
It’s new ground to break, and the first movers are the ones charting a path that others will have to follow. And it’s more than just getting to a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The most advanced players in the space are already thinking about things like controlling for energy costs and long-term charger maintenance today, so that drivers can trust charging stations just as much as they trust the way they’ve fueled up for decades. We may not find all the definitive answers in 2023, but these big-picture infrastructure plans will take center stage and begin taking shape.
4. Cleantech becomes a talent magnet
Established tech companies have long commanded a powerful appeal for developers and software engineers. But as the tech market is marked by recent layoffs, 2023 will see an influx of top talent into cleantech. For such a mission-driven cohort, the opportunity to contribute to a more sustainable future will be a powerful draw.
While the sense of purpose that cleantech provides will be important, equally significant for talent attraction is the sector’s economic resilience and impressive track record of innovation. Cleantech presents the opportunity to flex highly technical muscles, not just in hardware and manufacturing, but also in software and programming. As just one example, software will play a key role in maintaining the energy grids of the future and managing fleet charging operations.
At bp pulse, our team is at the forefront of building new solutions and products hand-in-hand with our EV customers. In many ways we are only at the beginning, creating a huge opportunity for those that find joy in problem solving and building new technologies that will shape the entire cleantech industry.
Whatever their motivation, tech workers will find exciting opportunities in cleantech. Recessions are always painful, but by reallocating technical talent across industries, changing economic headwinds may help accelerate progress toward electrification. In 2023, we look forward to a new generation discovering a passion for working in cleantech.
The future of mobility is electric
While planning for the future may seem daunting after the past few years of rapid global changes, if you zoom out a bit, the long-term trends in transportation are clear: across geographies, industries, and business cycles, EVs are here to stay. The next challenge is building the technology and infrastructure that enables cleantech to scale to the challenge. At bp pulse fleet, we’re committed to playing our part and delivering the future-proofed charging solutions the world will need in 2023 and beyond.