City delivery is the perfect application for fleets to start migrating to battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Shorter routes and slower speeds are among the many reasons.
Steve Ivsan, head of program management at Xos, a BEV maker founded in 2016, said when a fleet considers buying a BEV, they shouldn’t think of it as just a vehicle purchase. The fleet also purchases the necessary support that comes with this vehicle, as well as the ability to reduce operating costs.
“Especially with the price of fuel right now, it’s pretty obvious that one of the biggest cost-of-ownership benefits of the BEV is fuel,” Ivsan said. “But maintenance arguably has even more of an impact when you switch to an electric powertrain.”
“There are far fewer parts and systems to maintain on an all-electric van and less maintenance required overall,” said Andrew Walker, Ford Pro commercial van brand manager. “For example, you don’t need to perform a lube/oil filter change or transmission flush on an E-Transit.” And since there are fewer mechanical parts, there is much less lubrication to perform regularly.
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Ivsan said brake life could also be extended on a BEV, which benefits from regenerative braking. An electric motor helps slow the vehicle by providing drag when the brakes are applied or the driver’s foot is taken off the accelerator pedal. This drag helps generate electricity, which helps charge the batteries. The other benefit is that the drag helps to take some of the work out of the braking system, reducing friction brake wear.
BEV maintenance is always necessary
Despite all the benefits of BEVs, brakes still need to be inspected regularly and serviced at the right time. Additionally, there are other key maintenance processes that should be performed at regular intervals on an electric powertrain, often every 12 to 36 months.
“These include air compressor oil and filter changes, low voltage battery checks, high voltage wiring checks, electric axle or drive motor lubrication and flushing cooling system,” said Kevin Otzenberger, senior product marketing analyst for Daimler Truck North America, which manufactures Freightliner trucks.
“I’ve seen some OEM maintenance programs that recommend 5,000 mile intervals that include tire rotation, tread depth measurements and fluid levels,” said Terry Rivers, vice president of maintenance and technical training for Cox Automotive Mobility Fleet Services. “The tools needed can fit in the palm of your hand, and the standard repair time for this interval on some electric vehicles is one-fifth of an hour. The vast majority of shops, if not all, already have the tools necessary to perform most service intervals on most BEVs. »
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According to Otzenberger, service centers planning to work on electric vehicles will need at least one or two trained high-voltage (HV) technicians who are qualified to decommission vehicles, ensuring that other employees can work in complete safety around HV components.
“Freightliner Service Center HV Battery Specialists, or Decommissioning Technicians, must complete ‘HV Level 3’ training, which is a multi-day, in-person training course with hands-on vehicle experience,” Otzenberger emphasized. .
One new development that fleet maintenance facilities will need to adapt to is the need for charging infrastructure. Vehicles will need to be recharged to allow a technician to perform diagnostics as well as before being returned to the customer.
Setting up charging infrastructure across the country is an ongoing process that is still in its early stages. In the meantime, Otzenberger said fleets will need to be self-sufficient, installing charging stations on their properties for depot charging.
Fleets running multiple shifts in a day should carefully plan two to three hour fast charging sessions using 100 to 150 kW DC fast chargers. Additionally, fleets using multiple BEVs can turn to a charger management system that automates the process of charging vehicles sequentially, rather than simultaneously, based on priority.
This article originally appeared in its entirety on Fleet Maintenance, the sister publication of FleetOwner and part of the Endeavor Commercial Vehicle group.
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