Be prepared. Introducing hybrids into your fleet will present its share of challenges. Your task, as you go hybrid, will be to identify the opportunities and benefits that such a move will offer; and anticipate the challenges and obstacles that you and your agency may encounter. Ultimately, you will use the information obtained through this exercise to make decisions that will represent the best option for your organization.
Do the Research
As you prepare to go hybrid, conduct research and contact professionals with expertise in the area of hybrid policy-making. Along with the benefits of switching to hybrid technology come a host of issues to consider and decisions to make. Having an expert to advise you will help you more quickly put hybrids on the road. Before placing a hybrid order for your fleet, do your homework: Know the the car’s efficiency, performance, and measures of driver satisfaction so that you feel comfortable with the long-term commitment you make.
Develop a Troubleshooting Strategy
Be prepared to meet with resistance from within and outside your agency. Resistance may show up in the form of co-workers, decision-makers, and/or potential users expressing their doubts about the added cost of hybrids, the uncertainty of the technology, and the lack of sufficient information on the life cycle cost of these vehicles. You may also need to address organizational issues such as the need to standardize the fleet, ambiguous environmental policy directions, and, in general, a lack of acceptance of this new technology. Anticipate objections so that you will be prepared to respond appropriately to them.
Work the Strategy
As you conduct research, consult with professionals and anticipate the challenge of acquiring hybrid vehicles. You will discover that the information you gathered will allow you to choose the most effective strategies for your agency. In developing your strategies, consider the following and be prepared to respond to questions about the nature of the investment:
- Plan to start small
- Involve stakeholders
- Conduct a life cycle cost analysis
- Conduct educational forums
Because hybrid vehicles have a higher purchase price than conventional vehicles, you should also look for ways of funding or offsetting some of your initial costs. Seek external funding in the form of grants from government agencies or private foundations. You may also tackle the challenge of funding through forming coalitions with other prospective buyers. Coalitions provide you with greater purchasing power and have the potential to reduce costs through bulk purchasing.
Maintain Support Among Stakeholders
After investing in hybrid technology, continue to generate support for your hybrid fleet by keeping stakeholders in the loop, getting coverage in local and regional media, and providing technical training to staff. A continuous flow of information helps to maintain the support of your stakeholders and the continued support of your stakeholders is a requirement for the sustained success of your hybrid fleet .
You should also seek to ensure the long-term viability of your hybrid fleet by identifying it as part of a larger program for environmental sustainability, and by ensuring that the organization has or develops clear environmental policies that support hybrid fleets. Protect your investment by maintaining open communication with manufacturers. This will ensure on-going technical support. Above all, have a champion! Someone who has clout in your organization, is knowledgeable about your program, and can articulate the issues.
Chart Your Progress and Celebrate Your Success
Your task of going hybrid is not complete until you determine how well the new vehicles perform and how closely they measure up to expectations. Therefore, keep careful records to document the performance of your fleet, and evaluate data against your stated performance standards. Make this information available to stakeholders and celebrate those successes that represent landmarks in your quest to go hybrid.
For additional information on how to convert your fleet, contact King County’s Fleet Administration Division at (206) 296-6521.