At The Networked EV last week in San Francisco, there was a lot of debate on how much infrastructure and grid improvement is needed for the impending first wave of electric vehicles. However, there was some measure of consensus that a good place to start was the more than 16 million fleet vehicles in the U.S.

Today, PTRM, a global management consulting firm, and the Electrification Coalition, a non-profit group of business leaders committed to EVs, offered a roadmap to make the electrification of fleet vehicles a reality. The first Electrification Roadmap, released one year ago, called for 14 million grid-enabled light-duty vehicles by 2020, although some analysts put that figure closer to one million by 2020. And despite bipartisan support for EVs, the DOE has a guesstimate there will only be five million EVs by 2035.

To close the gap on what the Electrification Coalition would like to see parked in American garages, it is focusing on fleets for obvious reasons:

  • The top 50 fleet operators manage more than 500,000 cars and trucks.
  • Fleet owners are concerned with total cost of ownership, rather than whether the car is red or has a DVD player in the back seat.
  • There is predictability in the routes that most fleet vehicles take.
  • Central parking makes charging easier.
  • Commercial and industrial customers often have lower electricity rates and are already comfortable with variable pricing plans.

“These factors combined with implementation of operational innovation and policy levers could lead to EV and PHEV penetration in 2015 as high as 7 percent of fleet vehicle sales,” Oliver Hazimeh, Partner and Head of the Global E-Mobility Practice at PRTM, said in a statement.

Some of these benefits are already obvious to large players. General Electric recently announced it would purchase 25,000 electric vehicles for its fleet. But some of the challenges that the individual car market faces with EVs are apparent for corporations, as well.

  • The cars still aren’t as cheap as other vehicle options, so companies must be willing to wait multiple years for paybacks.
  • Charging infrastructure could be a significant cost, depending on the size and location of the fleet.
  • Like consumers, corporations will have to be educated to overcome range anxiety and be comfortable investing in EVs.

To help quell some of these concerns, the Roadmap calls for an expansion of tax credits for light-duty EVs and PHEVs and charging infrastructure as well as new tax credits for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

The report goes on to make many of the arguments that are already being circulated in favor of EVs:

  • Even if a car runs purely on electricity from a coal-fired power plant, it has lower CO2 emissions from well to wheel than a gasoline vehicle.
  • EVs reduce the dependence on foreign oil.
  • Electric vehicles and their components can be, and in some cases, already are being made in the U.S.

The Roadmap ends with a call for government officials to both promote EVs within their own fleets and encourage adoption in the commercial sector through tax credits. However, it may be the leadership of companies like General Electric, rather than the divided -- and potentially locked -- government, that help EVs take their place as the fleet vehicle of choice.