Imagine a number of different companies sharing a single fleet of electric vehicles…
]Fraunhofer IAO and eight project partners are busy working out just how to make this vision a reality. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the Shared E-Fleet research project aims not only to work up suitable IT solutions, but also to design the smart energy management and profitable business models that are called for.
While electric vehicles are becoming a more common sight in Germany, the government’s target of having one million of them on the country’s roads by the year 2020 still seems a long way off; it will take a definite jump in user acceptance to meet this target. Corporate fleets represent a promising market segment for electric vehicles, and they could act as a strong signal to the public at large that the tide is turning. Right now in Germany, some 100,000 companies are using corporate fleets, with most fleets run by small and medium-sized companies. And it is for this kind of user in particular that fleet sharing is a viable alternative to the expense of buying and maintaining a fleet of their own.
As part of the Shared E-Fleet project, Fraunhofer IAO and its eight project partners are busy developing suitable concepts for how a single fleet of electric vehicles could be shared by many different companies. Key questions include how to make vehicle reservations user-friendly, billing straightforward, and vehicle charging ecologically sound and cost-effective. Shared E-Fleet will use real application scenarios to work up and test solutions in a variety of pilot schemes. Pilot users for these tests will include the Stuttgarter Engineering Park (STEP) and Münchner Technologiezentrum (MTZ) technology parks.
According to a recent survey, potential users view electromobility in a fundamentally positive light. What is more, the conditions for when it makes sense to use electric vehicles are effectively already being met: business journeys are generally no more than 100 kilometers, for example. What future users are skeptical about is the profitability of electric vehicles in a business context. This highlights how important it is to establish profitable business models – which is one of the topics Fraunhofer IAO is addressing as part of the Shared E-Fleet project. Another topic that will prove critical to the success of electric vehicle fleets is that of smart energy management. In tackling this issue, Fraunhofer IAO is exploring how to reconcile fleet vehicles’ charging needs with their operating schedules. Once the conceptual design and implementation phase is completed, the Shared E-Fleet pilot scheme is set to get underway in early 2014.
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