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Electric Fleets – Devising an EV Charging Strategy

Electrifying a fleet of vehicles is a story with two parts: the vehicles themselves, and the infrastructure that will power them.

electric charging for fleets

As mentioned in an earlier blog, the charging is as vital as the fleet itself. 

Here are the key elements to devising an EV charging strategy to support your electric fleet, and the questions you need to answer before installations begin: 

  • Choosing a location that will benefit the majority, 
  • Deciding which type of charging to offer, 
  • Working out the number of charge points you need, 
  • Considering which technologies and financial models to install with. 

Getting the right location

Where are the best places to install electric charging for fleet vehicles?

There is no correct answer to this question, as it is always unique depending on the fleet you are electrifying and your business model. You know your fleet and its behaviours best. Let this insight inform where they will charge.  

If your vehicles are stored at a particular facility or depot overnight, they need to be ready to go when the drivers arrive the next morning. Charging infrastructure would be best positioned in the places where they are parked, in this case. On the other hand, the vehicles may be parked overnight at drivers’ homes, in which case you might consider home charging infrastructure for your drivers, like the AA did. 

Lets talk power

Fast, rapid, ultra-rapid, or a combination – what is the most effective form of charging for fleet vehicles

Again, there is no correct answer. Whilst rapid and ultra-rapid charging is suited to quick ‘top-up’ chargers, fast charging is best for longer, overnight charges where time is not of the essence. It all depends on your fleet. 

If your fleet vehicles return to base multiple times during the day, they can take advantage of a top-up charge. Slower charging suits return-to-base fleets. DX Freight, for example, chose the latter, providing 7kW fast chargers for their drivers to plug in at the end of the day so their vehicles would be recharged overnight.  

If you are transitioning a fleet of vehicles for your staff, such as pool cars which are used during the day but travel only a short distance, you might also wish to charge on a gradual basis throughout the working day. 

Read more about the different use cases of EV charging for electric fleets here. 

It is also important to note that the power of your chargers will place different demands on your power system alongside existing energy requirements. This will require investigations and – possibly – new grid connections. This is where a site survey can help – not only do surveys help you plan for future infrastructure, they can also help you deduce whether you have the right capacity on site for the chargers in some cases. 

What about the number?

How many charge points do you need? 

Whilst you do not want part of your fleet to be left out of use because it cannot charge due to a lack of charge points, you also do not want to over install EV charge points. Doing so takes up space that can be used for other facilities, and out of use chargers also means a waste of investment. 

Consider Load Balancing

Get smart with EV charging

If it transpires that the power availability on your site currently cannot cope with the demand of your new EV chargers, there are a couple of solutions. 

The first is paying your district network operator (DNO) to upgrade your infrastructure, but this comes at a cost. Alternatively, you can implement load balancing, a technology which automatically distributes the available power to multiple vehicles.  

Funding your infrastructure

Sort the financials

Another aspect of your fleet charging strategy is the funding. Your charge point operator can provide you with the expected costs of installing, operating and maintaining the chargers. From this, you can decide to lease your charging equipment – which helps you avoid the up-front costs – or look into the grants and funding options available, such as the EV infrastructure grant for staff and fleets  and the Workplace Charging Scheme. Find out more about the charging infrastructure funding options available for your fleet here. 

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