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Fleet Efficiency: Is Data Your Fleet Electrification Blind Spot?

Data plays a vital role in helping to improve fleet efficiency and meet goals. It provides insight into almost every aspect of fleet management, from maintenance costs to miles driven, from fuel costs to driver hours.

Row of parked white vans with red van standing out in centre

There’s an important role for data when it comes to planning the next step in fleet electrification. It provides hard evidence and prevents important decisions being made on gut-instinct.  

Telematics – the on-board data that’s generated by vehicles – is proving of enormous value in helping to make informed decisions about which vehicles to electrify. Data on how far each vehicle travels per shift, when it’s not on the road and where it can be charged are key metrics to determine which cars, vans, or trucks to switch to an electric fleet. Telematics from EVs provide extra value once the vehicles are deployed, for example by remotely monitoring a battery’s charge status or checking how a driver drives.  

Fleet Data Blind Spot 

Despite having an analytical approach to vehicle management, data can be a blind spot for many when it comes to planning the charging infrastructure.  

In our private and working lives, we’re used to electricity being abundant, when in fact it’s a finite resource with pressure from competing demands. The workplace is part of a local network drawing energy from the same source. A workplace drawing down more than its fair share can cause the lights to go off in neighbouring buildings.  

 You could think of electricity filling a battery as being like water filling a bath. If you install 20 baths in your home and start to fill them all at once, your neighbour will get nothing when they turn on the tap. To prevent this from happening, an energy provider will have set a limit on how much power a workplace can use – and apply surcharges if the agreed limit is breached.  

It is also quite possible that a grid connection is not sufficiently high capacity to provide the energy needed to charge multiple EVs in a fleet all at once. To revisit the bath analogy, you could fill all 20 at the same time, but much slower than if you were just filling one. If you want to fill them faster, you need a bigger water pipe. Similarly, if your electricity connection is not high enough to charge your EV fleet and power all the other operations in your business, something is going to give when you plug in. 

Three key metrics help paint the full picture of where to start on your EV infrastructure journey

The capacity of your grid connection.

Peak power demand from your premises and spare capacity.

Whether the spare capacity meets EV charging needs.

The capacity question is relatively easy, as you can find out how much power is available from your distribution network operator (DNO).  

To calculate peak power demand – how much power you use – check your energy bills or use data from your building or energy management system. We would advise using 12 months of data as an absolute minimum here. Equipped with this data, it should be a simple process to work out whether you have capacity for the chargers your EVs will need. 

 From here you could find yourself in one of three potential scenarios 

  1. You are one of the lucky few who already has a grid connection that can support the number of EV chargers you want to deploy – you’re good to go! 
  2. You need a higher capacity grid connection and will have to pay your DNO for an upgrade. This can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and take months, so your business will need to factor in the additional costs and time to the fleet electrification plan. 
  3. Even with a higher grid connection you still can’t power as many chargers as you’d like – talk to an EV charging provider like Mer about using load balancing technology to overcome this.

Informed, evidence-based decisions about EV charging are only possible with the right data. You wouldn’t use guesswork when planning fleet operations, so why use it when planning fleet electrification?  

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