In terms of alternative-fuel passenger vehicles, fleet managers have a range of options when contemplating a shift away from gasoline or diesel, including compressed natural gas (CNG), fuel cells, propane autogas and electric vehicles (EVs). And according to an analysis from Pike Research, the lowest-cost alternative fuel option for fleets in the U.S. is the battery-electric vehicle.
Pike Research notes that the first assumption in this conclusion is that a fleet operator is able to take advantage of the current $7,500 federal tax credit for EVs. Also, the research firm explains that mid-size hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles will have a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) ‘over a vehicle lifespan of 120,000 miles, but not at mileage levels that are well under that figure.’
‘With $3.50 per-gallon gasoline, alternative fuel vehicles will provide payback in fleets that do a lot of driving,’ says senior analyst Lisa Jerram. ‘As gas prices continue to rise over $4.00, the equation will tilt further toward options like hybrids and plug-ins that reduce gasoline usage.’
The company's analysis further suggests, unsurprisingly, that compact cars – whether hybrid, gasoline or CNG – offer the lowest TCO. Compact battery electric and hybrid electric vehicles have a lower TCO than small gasoline-engine models, while mid-size hybrids, diesel and CNG cars all have a lower TCO than mid-sized gasoline sedans.
Pike Research adds that flex-fuel and stop-start vehicles are ‘unlikely to pay off their higher sticker prices.’