You take a fleet vehicle with a combustion engine and replace it with a battery-electric vehicle – simple. But as any fleet manager who has already tackled electric mobility and what comes with it will naturally know: it’s just not that simple unfortunately. That’s because apart from topics such as the charging infrastructure and such like, the new technology has its challenges, too. In this article we take a look at the important aspects of driver training, maintenance and insurance.
Driver training¹⁾: how electric mobility works
Driver training in line with the German accident prevention regulations (UVV)²⁾ eis very much carried out by the book: year on year. New or different sources of danger, application areas and vehicle features, which have to be addressed separately, do not really need to be added all that often. This is now changing with the new drive system, which makes it essential to adapt the documents and the process.
The basis for this is the updating of the existing risk assessment, in which all, even only theoretically possible risks related to use of an electric vehicle must be identified. The results of the risk assessment are then incorporated in the driver training. Drivers therefore need to know the potential risks associated with using electric vehicles, how they should respond to protect themselves and others should such risks occur, and how they can prevent problems.³⁾ Templates and training programmes are offered by a number of providers in this respect.
The topics covered by the training should include:
- how to handle a high-voltage system,
- how to deal appropriately with a battery fire,
- how to overcome challenges associated with almost silent driving and
- unfamiliar handling characteristics as a result of the vehicle’s different centre of gravity and much stronger acceleration.
The adapted driver training must be conducted with all drivers before the newly available vehicles are used for the first time and then repeated each year – or even more frequently if necessary.
Maintenance: making sure your electric vehicle stays fit
But before we get to that: obviously there is no need for an emissions test in the case of electric vehicles. As with combustion engine models, however, the general inspection¹⁾ must also be carried out 36 months following the first registration and then every 24 months after that. Admittedly, the inspection of an electrically powered vehicle differs from that for a combustion engine model. For example, TÜV, Dekra etc. scrutinise the high-voltage technology in particular¹⁾.
Electric cars are usually extremely frugal in terms of the amount and cost of servicing; after all, all-electric vehicles do not need engine oil, spark plugs and timing and fan belts. There is generally much less wear on the brake pads, too, as a result of regenerative braking (energy recovery), which means that they usually have to be replaced less frequently. In addition, operation of a battery electric vehicle means that there are fewer fluids to be maintained – usually only coolant, brake fluid and windscreen washer fluid. The batteries in turn have to date proven to be extremely stable. Should problems arise in this respect though, a Volkswagen warranty can be availed of, for example, for a period of up eight years or up to 160,000 kilometres following purchase, whichever comes first.⁴⁾
Insurance: driving in safe hands
Whether individual insurance or fleet package, insurers have long since adapted to the electric transformation and generally offer suitable products. Fleet operators should protect against damage to the battery as well as animal scratches, operating errors, accessories (wallbox, charging cable etc.) and fire. The topic of cyber attacks is also increasingly coming under scrutiny in relation to electric vehicles, which is why many insurance companies already cover accidents caused by hackers.⁵⁾ The cover letter should in turn take account of breakdowns and operating errors associated with electric vehicles, including free towing, for example, in the unfortunate event of a discharged battery.
News on the topic
1)Applies to Germany.
²⁾Part of statutory occupational health and safety in Germany.
³⁾Source: Landesinstitut für Arbeitsgestaltung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen (German language)
⁴⁾Within the scope of the warranty and the conditions and requirements listed therein, Volkswagen AG therefore guarantees the customer buying a brand new battery electric vehicle (BEV) with an electric drive that the usable capacity of the battery will not fall below 70% within eight years (or up to 160,000 kilometres driven, whichever comes first).
⁵⁾The contractual conditions are agreed individually.
© Volkswagen AG