Talks Business
March 2020

Jimmy Rogers, Electrical Engineer for MGE, visits job sites with MGE’s all-electric Ford Focus.

Jimmy Rogers, Electrical Engineer for MGE, visits job sites with MGE’s all-electric Ford Focus.

Have a corporate fleet and wondering if electric vehicles (EVs) should be part of the mix? MGE can help! We are adding all-electric EVs to our fleet and learning what it takes to operate EVs in a real-world environment. MGE first added alternative fuel vehicles to its fleet more than a decade ago; now the focus has moved to EVs. 

“We believe it’s important to practice what we preach,” said Jeff Jaeckels, director safety sustainability and environmental affairs at MGE. “Plus, having first-hand experience allows us to better support our customers and offer a model for them to follow as they investigate adding EVs to their fleets.” 

Here are the models we currently operate on and off the road: 
  • Three plug-in hybrid EVs. Ford C-Max Energi, Ford F-150 and Utilimaster step van with Odyne electric system (currently on order).  
  • Six hybrid electric aerial trucks. The booms operate on electric power when the chassis engine isn’t running. 
  • Six all-electric EVs. Includes five sedans and one utility terrain vehicle. 
Three big changes have made fully electric EVs a workable option for a wider variety of applications: 
  • Improved range. “Older EVs could only get around 100 miles on a charge; now a Chevy Bolt can get about 259,” said Rick Moling, manager fleet operations at MGE. “It’s easy to go an entire day without needing a charge.” Many Tesla models can travel more than 300 miles on a single charge, and additional longer-range options are coming. 
  • More charging options. Many businesses can charge overnight in their fleet garage. MGE also has a network of almost 40 public charging stations in greater Madison. Plus, there are roughly 70 charging stations throughout the Madison area and nearly 200 statewide. Visit plugshare.com to find a charging station near you.  
  • More vehicle variety. Car shoppers now have more choices than ever, making it easier to take the EV plunge. And, recent press indicates electric SUVs and trucks (pickup, medium-duty and heavy-duty)—which have historically lagged sedans—should be more readily available in the near future.  
Four original equipment manufacturers (Cummins, Daimler, Navistar and Tesla) have announced electric semitruck programs. Prices have been lower than expected, and prototype vehicles are currently being tested by actual fleets around the country. And, a variety of manufacturers have announced electric pickup options, including Ford, Rivian, Tesla and GM.

Electric SUVs and pickup trucks will be exciting additions to the MGE fleet. “So many of our vehicle miles are with light- and medium-duty trucks,” said Jaeckels.  

Although cost is certainly important, moving to fleet EVs can also help businesses like MGE that are committed to sustainability.   

MGE is targeting net-zero carbon electricity by 2050, and vehicle electrification will play a critical role. After all, transportation accounts for 29% of all fuel use in the United States and generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, research conducted by the Edison Electric Institute found that EVs powered by what they describe as the “average U.S. electricity generation resource mix” emit 54% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the average gasoline vehicle.
 

Want more proof on EV savings? Check out what the City of Madison has done!

Mahanth Joishy, superintendent, City of Madison Fleet Service, has been hard at work adding sustainable vehicles to the City’s fleet. From September 2018 to early January 2020, the City added 26 EVs to its fleet. Sixteen of those vehicles were just added in early 2020, which means fuel savings will be even more impressive in future years. 

Fuel savings to date:

  • 767 gallons in fuel
  • $1,895.67 in fuel savings
  • 15,031 pounds of carbon dioxide eliminated

The big question: Are EVs really cheaper to operate?

MGE recently purchased an all-electric off-road vehicle for use by the gas department.

MGE recently purchased an all-electric off-road vehicle for use by the gas department.

This is the question customers ask most. 
  • Fuel. EV fuel costs are typically about half those of a gasoline-fueled vehicle, though costs will depend on how the vehicle is used and current gas prices. Customers who charge their vehicle during off-peak hours (when electricity use is lower and less expensive) can cut costs there too.  
  • Maintenance expenses. Not having an internal combustion engine eliminates a host of expenses, including oil changes, air and fuel filters, and spark plugs. Plus, EVs’ regenerative braking means less wear and tear.  

Ready to investigate EVs? Check out these tips: 

The following are gleaned from MGE’s own fleet experience and those of our customers. The best tip of all? Contact MGE when you’re ready to consider EVs. Fleet electrification requires businesses to think about fuel in new ways, including consideration of electric rates and charging infrastructure. The MGE team can offer a wealth of knowledge and experience to help you evaluate charging infrastructure, minimize fuel costs and add vehicles that will meet your business needs. 

Evaluate your vehicle needs. The growing variety of vehicles means there’s more likely to be one available to meet your needs, though it’s also important to consider how they’re used. For instance, if they follow a set route and park overnight, an EV might be a great fit. “MGE can help you determine what is and isn’t a fit,” said Debbie Branson, manager electrification at MGE. “We’ve done our homework and are happy to help you do yours.” 

Make alternatively fueled vehicles your default replacement option. To speed fleet electrification, MGE has a policy that all vehicle replacements will be alternatively fueled unless there’s a business case against it. “This policy ensures we stay on top of vehicle options and speeds replacement time,” said Jaeckels. 

Expand on-site chargers at (or above) the rate you add EVs—and plan ahead. Sufficient, timely charging capacity is vital. Determine typical daily EV mileage and when it’s likely to occur and use that information to drive the number and types of chargers. Have upcoming facility expansion plans? That’s the best time to create charger-ready areas. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t—adding chargers can be easier than you think, and MGE can help you navigate how and where to add chargers.  

Educate yourself on how EVs operate. In an EV, everything runs off battery power—the engine, the heater, the wipers, the air-conditioning, the phone. So, on a particularly cold or hot day, it’s likely users won’t get the manufacturer’s stated range.  

Understand the additional benefits of electrification. EVs and electrified vehicle tools are much quieter. “The ancillary electrical equipment makes it easier for our employees to communicate—which enhances safety—and enables a calmer worksite,” Jaeckels said. “It’s much less disruptive when we’re working in a neighborhood.”

Get a complete picture of how EVs could affect your electricity costs. MGE can help you navigate your best rate options, charging equipment, charging times and more. 

Ready to go EV? MGE is here to help! Contact the MGE Business Energy Line at (608) 252-7007.