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Blue Light EV Fleets – Prioritise the Charging Infrastructure

Electrifying an emergency service fleet requires exploring the charging infrastructure at the same time. Natasha Fry, Head of Sales at Mer Fleet Services, tells us more.

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The charging infrastructure is just as important as the adoption of a blue light electric fleet

Transitioning an emergency fleet from petrol/diesel to electric is critical for services who are looking to achieve ambitious sustainability goals. But, this is not the only step in the story. The charging infrastructure is just important. 

Investing in an emergency electric fleet without the ability to recharge these mission-critical vehicles on-site is futile. The media have highlighted examples whereby services have invested in EVs but not in the charging infrastructure that is integral to power them and ensure they can be utilised.  


Getting the timing right

Of course, the transition to an electric fleet within the emergency services can take time, and is often a process that comes after much consideration from many stakeholders within any organisation. This, however, is not a reason to hold back on making decisions about the charging infrastructure that will power the fleet.  

The time scales surrounding an EV charging project must be considered. In some instances, new power connections are necessary if the current power availability is insufficient to support the fleet. This can take an extended period of time to organise and see through. It is therefore vital that the charging is considered simultaneously, if not prior, to decisions being made about which/how many vehicles will be transitioned. Fleet managers can avoid facing delays to using their new emergency service electric fleets by taking the charging into account now. 


Consider the limitations

With an emergency services fleet, there is an additional challenge to reflect on. Charge point operators across the UK are building a substantial public charging network. Unlike refuelling a petrol/diesel vehicle, EVs can take considerably longer to charge, and require drivers to leave their vehicles to charge for hours in some cases. 

However, vehicles of the emergency services will necessarily not be in a position to use public charging infrastructure, due to the risks involved. Having a police car, for example, charging in public puts the vehicle and the personnel at risk. They are limited, therefore, to charging at the vehicle’s base or a service’s station, and so they are relying on the infrastructure their organisation has invested in. 

Ensure you have the right quality and quantity of charging

Fleet managers need to ensure their business-critical vehicles are not going to be compromised in their ability to carry out their roles to the highest standard and will not be left unable to reach their destinations without running out of power. The impact on an emergency service due to a lack of charging capacity could be catastrophic. It is essential that services install the right number of chargers with the right power capability, at the right locations.  

Understanding the dwell time of the vehicles and where they will be for the longest period can give fleet managers confidence that they are installing their infrastructure where it will be most effective. This will inform the type of chargers, too: if the vehicles are able to charge overnight, then fast charging is the way to go, whilst if top-up charging is more applicable to the fleet, rapid and ultra-rapid charging will be required. This decision is best made when you understand the dynamics of a vehicle, the way it is used within the fleet, which affirms the need to consider the vehicles and the charging simultaneously at the start of any electrification journey. 

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