3 Challenges Fleets Face in the Energy Transition and How To Overcome Them

As the energy transition drives the shift to sustainable fleets, mobile fuel delivery, data analysis, and technological advancements ease the path.
Mar 9, 2023 3:00 PM ET
A green background with trees appears with a purple road. On the road is a truck. In the truck's path are dollar coins, an EV charging station, and gears indicating maintenance and repair.
Many challenges lie ahead for fleets taking on the energy transition.

From electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to ESG reporting and sustainability goals, the energy transition now influences a significant portion of the transportation industry’s day-to-day. And while the long-term benefits of transitioning to cleaner and greener energy sources and operations are plentiful, successfully getting from our current state of energy and transportation to a more sustainable future state will be a long and sometimes arduous journey. This will be especially true for smaller fleets with tighter budgets and fewer resources. 

The energy transition poses several challenges for fleets, many born from the need to balance cost-effective and reliable transportation with the growing demand for sustainable and low-emission vehicles. Luckily, convenient, efficient solutions can be found in mobile fuel delivery, data analysis, and technological advancements. 

As fleet managers prepare for a smooth transition, here are some of the key challenges they should look out for:

1. Upfront costs

One of the biggest challenges fleets face in the energy transition is the upfront costs associated with adopting zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs).  For example, electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles tend to be more expensive than traditional fossil fuel vehicles. This cost is compounded by the added expenses of fueling at different (and often rarer) stations or building the right charging and fueling infrastructure on-site, as well as the costs associated with training drivers on new vehicles with different maintenance and repair needs. 

While the total cost of ownership of ZEVs may be lower over time due to lower operating costs, the initial investment can be a significant barrier for fleets, especially smaller fleets with fewer resources. To mitigate the budgetary barrier, fleets may be best served by taking a mixed-energy fleet approach, in which they slowly phase in clean vehicles, shifting the ratio of their ICE vehicles to ZEVs over time. 

In the meantime, they can turn to mobile fuel delivery to save money and fuel a range of vehicle types with one simple system. Mobile fuel delivery is the ideal solution for mixed energy fleets due to its adaptable nature and ability to service customers with a vast selection of fuel options. It also saves fleets money over time — on average, mobile fueling saves fleets $1,600 per vehicle annually. 

2. Infrastructure

The need for charging and refueling infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicles poses another significant challenge to developing sustainable fleets. While governments and private companies are actively investing in expanding infrastructure, it remains challenging for fleets to find charging or refueling stations nearby or on route, especially in rural or remote areas. This can impact the range and flexibility of alternative fuel vehicles, making it harder for fleets to adopt them.

Again, mobile fuel delivery stands ready to help. The mobile fueling model is infrastructure-light, meaning it does not rely on fixed infrastructure to fuel vehicles. This is a large contributor to the adaptability of the fueling model because there is no construction, permitting, upfront investment, or route change associated with fueling a vehicle with a new energy source. Want to switch to renewable diesel by next week and add hydrogen FCEVs the week after? Mobile fuel delivery has you covered with on-site fueling for all your needs.

3. Maintenance and repair

Building and maintaining a sustainable fleet entails much more than simply onboarding the vehicles into your operations — you also must relearn many things you thought you knew about maintenance and repair. In most cases, ZEVs require different maintenance and repair procedures compared to traditional vehicles. It may be challenging for fleets to find qualified technicians and repair facilities. This can impact the reliability and uptime of ZEVs, which, in turn also impacts the overall efficiency of fleet operations.

Making careful use of data analytics can help. With telematics and fueling data, fleet managers can easily track what maintenance procedures may be needed and when. Predictive fleet maintenance leverages real-time analytics and long-term fleet data trends to optimize the timing of fleet maintenance activities, keeping fleets running in tip-top shape with their best fuel economy. 

Booster’s data portal offers one piece of the holistic data puzzle by providing easy-to-understand insights into fuel type, gallons, pricing detail, cost savings, labor hours saved, miles reduced, emissions prevented, and more, so you can always have the best information about your fleet’s status. 

Easing into Sustainable Fleets

As fleets transition to more sustainable, cleaner vehicles, they can overcome these challenges and more with innovation and creativity. Fleet operators, manufacturers, governments, and other stakeholders must all collaborate to support and drive the adoption of sustainable and low-emission transportation solutions. By overcoming these barriers with mobile fuel delivery, data analysis, and an iterative approach to transition, fleets can contribute to a more sustainable and secure energy future while meeting their transportation and budgetary needs.