An increasing number of businesses are choosing to adopt electric vehicles into their fleet. According to McKinsey, “fleets in the United States could include as many as eight million electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030.” It’s no surprise since the transition to fleet electrification can reduce vehicle maintenance and fuel costs by 80% and carbon emissions by 96%.
To electrify a fleet, companies need to consider moving from the gas station “fill up” mindset. Why? Because EV charging doesn’t work the same way. Before purchasing EV chargers for your fleet, there are a few factors to consider.
Every fleet is different. Some have multiple 18-wheelers that roll 24/7, stopping for just an hour at a time. Others have a few vans that run all day and sit idle all night. In both instances, the vehicles must leave on schedule or business grinds to a halt.
“Keeping the fleet rolling is critical and essentially a function of reliability,” says Michael Robinson, Director of Strategic Market Development at PowerFlex. While EV chargers are durable and dependable, equipment does need to be serviced from time to time. There are strategies to improve reliability, such as installing additional stations to ensure continuity of charging even during maintenance windows.
Another EV strategy tied to fleet schedules is implementing a mix of Level 2 and Level 3 (DC Fast) charging stations. According to Michael, “Companies are not using the Level 2’s as much as they could. They start electrifying and installing DC Fast Chargers and only then, maybe later on, realize they could have installed Level 2 charging stations instead.”
Installing Level 2 charging stations can ease infrastructure requirements, accelerate timelines, and lower overall costs. PowerFlex’s Level 2 chargers use Adaptive Load Management (ALM) software to optimize EV charging across a network according to vehicle schedules. This ensures vehicles that need to leave first are charged first. However, with a DC Fast Charger mixed in, if an EV arrives late, you have the option for a quick turnaround.
A mix of charging assets provides flexibility and reliability to your operations while lowering upfront and operational costs.
Your business model also has an influence on your charger selection. For instance, some logistics companies employ independent contractors for fleet delivery. Traditionally, independent contractors have purchased fuel for gas vehicles. With the transition to electric vehicles, this business model means billing the independent drivers individually for using corporate charging infrastructure.
But consider a different business model where a logistics company owns and operates the vehicles within its fleet. These corporates install the EV charging infrastructure and pay for the energy but also have the opportunity to integrate electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) software into their internal platforms. For example, PowerFlex X — PowerFlex’s suite of intelligent software and hardware that controls and optimizes onsite energy assets — can integrate with telematics and fleet management platforms to track details on vehicles such as location, state of charge, and battery performance.
Consider your business model and the insights it requires — there are EV charging solutions capable of supporting nearly any level of granularity.
There’s no “one size fits all” approach to fleet EV charging. System design isn’t as simple as ordering a 100-kW charger for every 100 kilowatt-hours of vehicle charging needed. In fact, this type of thinking can lead to inefficient spending and significant project delays.
Michael cautions, “What people don’t always realize is that the utility timelines can be very long for getting as much power as they think they might need. Optimization reduces the energy costs and can also reduce that timeline.”
At PowerFlex, we design custom EV charging systems for each fleet’s unique use-cases, taking into account details like routes, schedules, and vehicle types, as well as telematics platforms integration and business models. We understand the differences between fleet operation strategies and what’s important to each case.
Our PowerFlex X platform integrates energy assets, such as solar, battery storage, and diesel generators, with EV charging. Cortex, the “brains” of PowerFlex X, uses algorithms to:
Talk to us today about how we can work together to design an EV fleet charging system for your organization.