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How to Optimise Cost per Delivery with EV Charging

Last mile delivery is a highly competitive industry, with a strong focus on managing costs and maintaining margins vital to success.

Delivery driver for last mile logistics operations

Adding electric vehicles (EVs) to your delivery fleet can bring benefits, but only if you approach it in the right way. In this article, we explain how to use EV charging to help optimise your costs per delivery. 

Last mile is widely regarded as the most expensive element of the supply chain, with experts putting the price at anywhere between 28% and 40% of total supply chain costs. In addition, academics such as Georgia Ayfantopoulou at the Hellenic Institute of Transport in Greece, say that between 20% and 30% of a city’s carbon dioxide emissions come from last-mile deliveries. Transitioning to EVs is therefore vital for improving urban air quality and achieving corporate sustainability targets, as well as keeping a tight rein on overheads. 

Here are a magnificent seven ways in which your EV charging infrastructure can support the switch to EVs in your last mile delivery fleet, while also improving return-on-investment: 


1. Right sizing your charging infrastructure

A capable EV charging provider will properly analyse your fleet operations to recommend infrastructure tailored to your needs. For example, Mer has worked with last mile delivery companies who initially asked us to install rapid charging for their vans, however after our site surveys and data analytics we were able to recommend 7kW fast chargers instead. This saved the client a substantial amount of money as rapid charging points are several times more expensive than fast chargers. 

One size often does not fit all as many depots are different. Work with a provider who understands this and will create a proper proposal specific to each site. 


2. Planning ahead

While you might only be introducing a few electric commercial vehicles right now, your EV fleet will grow pretty quickly over the coming years. A good EV charging provider will ask you about this and factor it in when laying cables.  

At Mer we have completed a significant number of installations where we have laid cable not just for the initial batch of charge points but also to accommodate future charge points. This saves our clients money in the long run as they are not paying twice for groundworks. 


3. Smart charging

Your infrastructure has smart charging capabilities so make the most of it by using as much energy on lower tariffs as you can. This is particularly pertinent if your vehicles return to base and plug in at the end of the day for an overnight recharge. For example, if the vehicles are connected to the charge points by 5pm but will not be disconnected until 8am, they don’t need to start charging right away. Set the smart chargers to start charging the vehicles later when off-peak tariffs kick in. 


4. Data analytics

Make sure your EV charging provider has a robust and user-friendly back-office management system. You and your team should be able to access all the data you need to monitor and report on fleet KPIs. 

You can track how long each vehicle was on charge, the amount of kW it drew down from the grid and how much it cost. A good system will also tell you how much you saved in carbon emissions compared to running diesel delivery vehicles. Make sure each vehicle has an RFID fob attached to the keychain to ensure that you can accurately track each vehicle. 


5. Reliable infrastructure

Down time is deadly for delivery companies; margins are tight and vehicles need to be on the road to earn money. Paying a bit more initially for proven infrastructure that is robust and reliable will often deliver a return on investment time and again.  

In addition, look for an EV charging provider with robust service level agreements and a track record of delivering on them. 


6. Monetise your chargers

While it would be pointless to set tariffs for your delivery vehicles, you might want to charge visitors or employees who want to plug their own vehicles into your infrastructure. The best charging point providers will offer you the capabilities to set and manage multiple tariffs – for example, free use for delivery vans, one tariff for employees and another rate for visitors. 


7. An expert partner

As with reliable infrastructure, it is worth paying that bit extra to work with an expert, proven partner. Look for someone who can help you every step of the way, from site surveys to identify the right chargers for each depot, to high quality aftersales service and support. 

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