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Fleet Electrification: EV Fleet Trends

We sat down with Simon Tate, Sales Director of the Fleet Services division of Mer to discuss some of the current and future trends in fleet electrification.

EV fleet trends

Simon Tate has worked in the fleet sector since 2005, and now holds a senior position at Mer, a leading provider of fleet, workplace, and home EV charging infrastructure. Previously, Simon has had integral roles within Mercedes-Benz, Lombard, LeasePlan and Northgate.  

While he has specialised exclusively in the EV charging sector since 2018, Simon remains close to the fleet sector, working with major operators on their electrification goals. Here are his thoughts on trends in fleet electrification. 


Starting the transition 

As an expert in helping fleets to install the right EV charging infrastructure, Simon understands that power limitations on site are a huge factor. “For any organisation wanting to take up EV adoption for their operations, the key factor is the amount of power available at each site,” he said. “This will limit the total number of electric vehicles you can charge at each site, unless you are prepared to invest in an expensive infrastructure upgrade to facilitate EV growth. 

“At Mer one of the first things we do for a fleet is undertake surveys at each of their sites, to discover how much power is available for EV charging. What the existing maximum energy demands at those sites are when all plant, and equipment, and infrastructure is running at once – and what spare capacity is there after that? Once you have this number, you can calculate how many EV charge points you can install and therefore how many EVs you can deploy on your fleet.  

“There are ways around power limitations, such as Mer’s load-balancing system, which can enable you to charge more vehicles, but at a lower rate. However, identifying the available power first means that fleets build a robust and viable EV transition strategy. Conversely, starting with the vehicles first and then finding out you do not have enough power on site means having to rework plans – better to get it right first time. 

“The other advice I would give to any fleet manager embarking on a net zero plan is get out of the office and visit other sites that have already started the process. See the infrastructure at work for yourself. Talk to other managers about how they did it, how to avoid making their mistakes, and what worked for them.”

For further information on how to electrify your fleet, visit our Fleet EV Charging page


Electric vans 

While most of the focus has been on cars, electric vans are also becoming more prevalent – fleets must think carefully about how to deploy them, and the charging infrastructure they need. 

“From an operational point of view, range and payload remain challenges for some van applications, but both are improving all the time,” added Simon. “As with cars, most vans do relatively low mileage, well within the capacity of an EV. Similarly, many applications such as last-mile delivery typically do not get anywhere near the payload limits on an e-van, so there is a good slice of the market that can already be addressed. 

“The other main challenge is how you provide charging for drivers who take fleet vehicles home at night. One solution is creating local charging hubs that are specifically designed to accommodate electric commercial vehicles – vans and trucks, as electric HGVs are coming down the line. 

“Some fleet operators have the misconception that vans need rapid charging – this isn’t always the case. A great example would be our client, Milk & More, as their 500 electric vans are static for up to 10 hours at a time, so standard fast chargers are fine to refill the batteries ready for the next shift. However, some van operators will need rapid EV chargers to continue to operate effectively. 

“We are also not yet at the levels of the electric car market in terms of choice of models and specifications for electric vans. Maxus is probably the only OEM producing different variants at volume. Maxus has the full range in terms of long and short wheelbase as well as different bodies like tippers and dropside vans. We need to see more manufacturers following their lead. 

“Another major frustration for van drivers is that a lot of public charging points are only suitable for cars. Sometimes the bays where public chargers are installed are simply too small for vans, or the cables are not long enough to enable a van to plug in.” 

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