How To Build A Green Fleet For Your Company

August 7, 2013

Last week I had the opportunity to sit down at the first Electric Vehicle Task Force Meeting and discuss the future of Electric Vehicles (or EVs, for short) in the state of Utah. A couple of representatives from Packsize were invited over to provide an example of what a few incentives can do for electric vehicle ownership and the company culture it creates. We here at Packsize pride ourselves on doing everything we can to help the environment, and are very excited to participate in this conversation.

A picture a few minutes before the meeting started.

A picture a few minutes before the meeting started.

Packsize LLC owns about 60 vehicles. The majority of them are Priuses that our sales and field engineering team drive. However, nine of our company cars are either running fully electric or partially electric. If you read last week’s interview with Packsize co-founder Hanko Kiessner, you probably noticed that he cares about sustainability a lot. Because of his passion, Hanko has been the leader of a sort of revolution here. The number of sustainable vehicles in our parking lot is astounding, and not all of them are company cars. Our gas expenses are extremely low, and maintenance has been surprisingly easy. But perhaps most importantly, we send a clear message that this company cares about sustainability.

If you want to help create a more sustainable fleet for your company, this post is for you. I’m going to focus mainly on EVs and creating a culture of sustainable vehicles here because that is what a lot of our recent action items have revolved around. Now, you can spout off statistics, talk vehicle specs, and bemoan the future of the environment all you want, but the fact is that most people will need more than just a sales pitch to switch to an electric vehicle. It’s my goal to show  how specific actions taken here have helped persuade people of the benefits of an EV. Here are four different ways Packsize has helped educate its employees on the benefits of EVs.

1. Get a Vehicle Charger (or two) Installed at Work. One of the hurdles for many of the employees here is how to charge the battery. If they have to travel during the workday, the nightly charge from their home power outlet might not be enough to get them through the day. However, a big hurdle for governments and businesses when it comes to installing these chargers is a chicken-or-egg issue. Do they wait for enough electric cars to be bought so that the demand is there, or do they install chargers now to increase demand? I would argue that electric cars will only continue to improve with technology and aren’t going anywhere soon—and because of this, it is in an organization’s best interests to be an innovator and look into installing chargers.

Last summer, Hanko pointed out to our building manager that our sustainable practices were saving him x-amount of money in energy costs, and convinced him to use those savings to install vehicle chargers. This action gave our employees an extra incentive to drive an EV to work and save on gas money.

A few Packsize employees celebrating the installation of the first EV charger at the office last year (you can see me in the comparatively loud shirt in the center).

A few Packsize employees celebrating the installation of the first EV charger at the office last year (you can see me in the inappropriately loud shirt in the center).

Since that time, we’ve had eight chargers installed here. And fighting over a parking spot next to one of these charging stations has become something of a running gag in the office.

2. Let People Test Drive It. This year, we’ve given our employees the opportunity to test drive either a Nissan Leaf or a Chevy Volt for a week. The program has only been running for a little more than three months, but has already been a huge success. So far, we’ve had one employee buy an electric car and two others who are looking into it. However,  the employees who didn’t buy an EV still had the opportunity to drive a week with next to no gas usage—a great introduction to sustainable cars.

3. Track the Savings. Employees who take advantage of the program above are asked to record how many miles they drove, how much gas they bought, and how much gas they saved during the week they drove the electric vehicle. I won’t go into too many specifics, but I will share a couple of stats with you.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 1.35.38 PM

How 8 cars in Packsize’s fleet have used gas or battery power since we’ve purchased them.

I recently gathered some data on 8 of the EVs in Packsize’s fleet—namely, what percentage of their mileage was driven on battery power. The group contained Chevy Volts, Nissan Leafs, and other EVs that are currently on the market. As you can see, we’ve managed to drive over 30,000 miles on electric power over the last several months. Assuming that the drivers of these cars would have had to spend $3.50 per gallon of gasoline (a very conservative estimate), and that these cars would have driven about 42 miles to the gallon otherwise, we can see just how much money in gas they’ve saved.

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Quite the difference, right? Yes, I know this isn’t super scientific, and that the sample size is limited, but even small anecdotal stories like this mixed with some facts do wonders for changing opinions. In the future, we would like to gather much more detailed metrics among a larger number of cars.

4. Make Sustainability a Priority. I’ve seen our founder travel home on a battery powered bicycle. Something I’ve said before that I really appreciated about working here is that Packsize doesn’t use “green” or “sustainability” as a marketing buzzword, but they really are part of our core values. We make it our goal to prove that we can be a green business that is also profitable at the same time. When values like this are given serious priority by the leadership of a company, it will start to rub off on its employees.

To see more about how Packsize is helping the environment, click here.

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