The Zero Emission Journey with Charlie Silk

By December 15, 2022 Electric Vehicles
eco friendly vehicle driving across a green field.

Charlie Silk is a Fleet Services Manager at QFleet and has taken the time to share her perspective and experiences with introducing zero-emission vehicles into fleet.

Can you tell me a bit about your role and how long you’ve been working in the industry?

I’ve been a fleet industry professional for over 20 years and I’m currently the Fleet Services Manager. In this role, I am responsible for the implementation of business and government initiatives and managing the daily activities of the Fleet Services teams for the leasing and management of the Queensland Government Fleet of over 10,000 vehicles.

What are the priorities of your fleet and organisation?

QFleet provide vehicle leasing and strategic fleet management services across the 10,000+ vehicles in Queensland Government. QFleet has a responsibility for ensuring value for money, and for the transition of eligible Queensland Government passenger vehicles to Zero Emission by 2026.

What are some changes in fleet have you noticed or been affected by in recent years?

COVID-19 and the pandemic has had major impacts on supply chains and vehicle choice. This has impacted our business with the requirement to change how we procure vehicles, which has enabled us to consider new and innovative ways to secure this stock. The biggest change we are currently experiencing is the move to Zero Emission vehicles and the significant challenge of ensuring sufficient charging infrastructure is in place.

Zero-emission vehicles are a hot topic in fleet, how smoothly do you believe these will be adopted into fleets? What could be the biggest barriers from a fleet manager’s point of view?

QFleet has already started the adoption of Electric Vehicles into our fleet with 300+ active zero emission vehicles leased to our customers and a further approximately 100+ on order. The transition to EV has not been a smooth one, with a lack of customer knowledge and the fear of the unknown on how to manage the new technology and the changes to the recharging rather than refuelling.  The biggest barrier to further uptake is misinformation in the media, vehicle supply and lack of charging infrastructure.

In a fleet context, what advice do you have for those looking to improve their environmental commitment but are unsure where to start?

My advice is to take the first step and introduce one or two vehicles into the fleet, to give drivers access to the vehicles and providing the hands-on real-world experience. By doing this, the fear and concern regarding range and recharge reduces greatly.

What are some reservations your organisations may have had about before transitioning to Zero-Emission Vehicles?

The main reservations related to getting the vehicles we need in a timely fashion, driver acceptance and solving the charging puzzle.

What has your experience with Zero-Emission Vehicles in fleet taught you?

Information sharing and education is critical. You can never have too much knowledge about the ZEV ecosystem from charging through to vehicle types and debunking the misinformation sprouted in the media.

We have learnt that driver experience and first hand knowledge of vehicles is paramount for acceptance of the new technology. Once you have a driver behind the wheel of a ZEV you will struggle to get them out!!

Is there anything further you would like to add?

ZEV’s have to be driven to be believed, don’t knock it until you have tried it.

A special thank you to Charlie Silk for taking the time to share her perspective and her organisation’s experience with zero-emissions vehicles.

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A fleet manager’s insight with Kristy Simmons

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