Transitioning Vehicle Fleets to Electric: How NYC Can Support the Workforce

As Federal, State, and local policies increasingly mandate and incentivize the conversion of public and private vehicle fleets to zero-emission vehicles, the workforce must pivot to support widespread emergence of related new technologies. Transportation and warehousing personnel such as vehicle operators, fleet managers, and maintenance technicians will need to adjust their operations and training procedures to effectively and safely meet new standards.

In an effort to preempt workforce-related barriers to vehicle electrification, MaiiC engaged an NYU Wagner Capstone research team, including Mira Atherton, Renata Hegyi-Hoeger, Maise Jarrell, Eliza Perkins, Jacqueline Sharry, and Capstone Advisor Jennifer Gravel, to report on battery electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicle trends and potential disruptions, and to recommend how to prepare the workforce for an electric future.

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The deployment of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) has recently accelerated due in large part to programs and funding passed in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Despite recent and significant growth in BEV implementation, this is still an emerging field of technology and best practices. As such, the bulk of available data and information is more qualitative in nature; this project largely relies on interviews

and surveys with fleet operators, government leaders, business owners, workforce development designers, auto mechanics, and educators.

Key Findings

  1. The electric transition process has a lot of moving parts and no clear roadmap. Introducing
    electric fleets requires significant upfront considerations and investments. Generally, fleet
    owners must navigate the process independently, which can be complex, time-consuming, and ultimately, discouraging.
  2. The current shortage of drivers, mechanics, and technicians in the workforce is expected to
    increase, particularly as the demand for delivery and freight reliant services grows. This pressure
    on the market, while new systems are implemented, has the potential to compound a worker shortage with a deep skills gap.
  3. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the only professional automotive certifying body in the industry. Certifications are awarded in an array of subjects that prove technical competencies. For many mechanic and automotive industry professions, specialized degrees are not required, nor are any professional or safety certifications.
  4. Local workforce programs lack resources to teach comprehensive EV courses and no standard EV curriculum currently exists. In some cases, procuring EVs is difficult.