The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) partnered with Walker Auto and Truck to embark on a transformative journey to electrify their fleet. North Carolina-based Walker Auto and Truck, a family-run auto parts company with a rich 50-year history, has not only embraced its legacy but is also steering into the future with an innovative and eco-friendly approach.
In 2021, NCCETC provided information to Walker Auto and Truck to help them navigate funding opportunities. Walker and Auto Truck then submitted a grant application to secure funding to incorporate its first fully-electric vehicle – a Chevy Volt into the company fleet. The company installed Level 2 chargers for overnight charging, with public charging stations added to one of their stores in Wilmington, NC.
The shift to electric vehicles (EVs) has been a financial boon, with owner Nat Walker noting, “The offset in fuel costs we experienced is astounding. Our goal is to migrate over to an electric and hybrid fleet.”
The positive outcomes of this shift are evident: a two-year pilot with the Chevy Bolt demonstrated remarkable performance, covering an average of 280 miles per week and offsetting gasoline costs significantly. Now, Walker Auto and Truck is not only changing the face of fleet replacements by considering plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles, but they are also actively engaging and encouraging others who are considering the transition to EVs. The company has participated in several events organized by NCCETC, showcasing their EV success story and contributing to the broader discourse on sustainable business practices and clean transportation.
Walker offered this advice to other businesses considering a shift to EVs in their fleet, “Don’t be afraid or panic.” Walker emphasized the importance of thorough investigation, testing and strategic planning.
Constantly seeking incentive funding at various levels of government has enabled Walker Auto and Truck to offset costs and expand their business strategies. Using a proactive approach to secure funding demonstrates the potential for other organizations to align sustainability with their economic growth.
Additionally, Walker Auto and Truck found that ensuring anyone operating the EVs receives training is a key practice to help employees familiarize themselves with the vehicle’s features. Monitoring battery charge in an EV to prevent it from dropping below 20% is imperative to keep the vehicle running smoothly and avoid any charging issues.
Riding the success of the new addition to their fleet, Walker Auto and Truck have expanded the scope of their business by venturing into consulting services. Under the new venture, EV Walker Charging Solutions, the company provides consulting services for the installation of charging stations in single and multi-family residential areas.
When looking to the future, Walker anticipates growing demand from the public and service departments at Walker Auto and Truck for EV maintenance and parts as vehicles exceed the life of their warranties and as incentives for EVs extend to include previously-owned vehicles.
The success story of Walker Auto and Truck’s journey towards electrifying their fleets serves as a testament to the possibilities for traditional business to embrace sustainable practices and technologies. Learn more about electric vehicles and if this option could be right for your fleet at www.cleantransportation.org.