Electrifying your fleet won’t happen overnight
Whether you are looking to electrify your entire fleet, or just one vehicle, there are many things to consider. It’s not as simple as just finding an equivalent sized vehicle. You will need to consider your daily driving patterns, operating costs and required charging equipment. You need a strategy that focuses on two things: picking the correct vehicle and building out the charging infrastructure.
Three key questions to ask when finding the right vehicle
New EV models are entering the market everyday and just like with any fleet vehicle, choosing the correct one for the application is critical. In order to determine the best EV for your application there are three questions that need to be answered.
What is the maximum distance the vehicle will drive in a day?
The first step is to understand what the range requirements are for the vehicle, which is most likely going to be determined on how far the vehicle will drive in a single day. There are some long-range battery electric vehicles (BEV) that can travel over 300 miles on a single charge. However, if your daily duty cycle is much smaller than this it may make sense to purchase a less expensive short-range model.
What is the current operating cost for the vehicle?
Currently, the purchase price of an electric vehicle is priced higher than its internal combustion engine (ICE) counterpart. The way EVs end up coming out ahead is that they have much lower fuel and maintenance costs. Refuelling your vehicle with electricity is a fraction of the cost of gasoline.
A study by the University of Michigan found that an EV costs less than half the amount to operate compared to an ICE vehicle when looking at fuel alone. If you incorporate the savings from being able to avoid maintenance costs, such as oil changes or replacing timing belts, EVs will save more money over the lifetime of the vehicle.
What is the vehicle's dwell time and where does it occur?
To ensure your vehicles are fully charged when they need to be, you have to consider where they sit and how long they will be there. This will determine how many charging stations you will need, where you should place them and the overall power requirements. Every fleet’s dwell time and location is going to be different so it is important to use data from your own fleet when reviewing this question.
You picked out the vehicles, now how will you charge them?
Planning out the required charging infrastructure is one of the more difficult aspects of transitioning to an electric fleet. You must examine a number of factors when installing the necessary charging equipment or electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).
Where is the optimal placement of the stations?
Understanding the driving patterns of your vehicles is the first step in figuring out where to install the EVSEs. If your daily driving distance is shorter it may make sense to have the vehicles charge at your fleet depot or you could have them charge at your employee’s home. Alternatively, if they drive further you may need to install equipment at a customer’s facility so that you can charge up during the day. Regardless of the location, you may need to consult with an electrician or electrical engineer to ensure that the on-site electrical infrastructure is adequate.
How many stations do you need?
The number of charging stations required will vary depending on a number of factors. This includes the total number of EVs, their duty cycles and their individual range. If the duty cycle of your vehicles is staggered, or if you have long dwell times, you may not require a charger for every EV. One last thing to consider is whether the equipment will be used exclusively for your fleet or will be open to the public.
What type of stations do you need?
There are three different types of charging equipment that are identified by the amount of power they use, which ultimately determines how fast they charge the vehicles.
Level 1 – This equipment uses the lowest amount of power and charges the slowest. It is the least expensive option as the equipment is included with the purchase of the EV and simply plugs into a standard 120-volt outlet. However, a Level 1 charger only provides between 3-5 miles of range per hour, meaning it could take over 20 hours to fully charge a long-range BEV.
Level 2 – This equipment accommodates a faster charging solution while still avoiding significant infrastructure upgrades. Depending on the capabilities of the EV itself, Level 2 chargers can provide up to 44 miles of range per hour and can typically charge a vehicle in around 3-7 hours. Level 2 chargers utilize a 240v household connection.
DC Fast Charging – This is the fastest way to charge an EV and is what is often used for public charging stations. They can deliver over 100 kW of power and can bring a typical 100-mile EV to around 80 percent in just a half hour. DC Fast Chargers are the most expensive option to install as they require significant electrical infrastructure. It is also important to note that some EVs, most commonly plug-in hybrids, are not capable of using this type of equipment.
If you are planning to install multiple EVSEs you should reach out to your utility provider in order to avoid any unnecessary demand charges. They can also advise you on any commercial electricity rate programs they may offer.
A strategy is important when considering going electric
Fleet electrification can seem like a daunting task at a first glance, but all that is required is a solid strategy. The benefits of going electric far outweigh the initial hurdles and fleet managers should start researching the options available to them. If you’re ready to start researching your options, our ebook is a great place to start.
Download the Ultimate Guide to Fleet Electrification to get started today.