Electrification Of Fleets: Charging And It’s Challenges

The Electric Vehicle market is growing at a previously unprecedented rate. Between 2013 and 2015, National Grid consistently said there would be around 5 million EVs on UK roads by 2035. In 2018, that forecast had increased to 25 million EVs by 2035 and 36 million by 2040.

As a result of the substantial incentives (both financial and environmental) of ‘choosing electric’, more companies are offering electric vehicles as part of their fleets.

While the business case adds up and the vehicles are perfect for the routes and mileage staff are covering, charging, or in many cases, the incorrect implementation of charging for fleet electric vehicles can cause significant inconvenience.

So, how then, can you ensure that the charging facilities you are installing are the best fit for your fleet and therefore your business operations?

Primarily, structuring the charging infrastructure to be provided around the types of vehicles to be charged and the time within which they are required to be fully charged is crucial to prevent any lost time waiting for charging.

Vehicles that are returning sporadically to a central location and require a quick turnaround (such as emergency response or call out vehicles etc), rapid charging may be prevent any waiting time that could have significant repercussions. Vehicles that return to a central location at the end of the working day and can consequently charge overnight can be charged at a slower rate. And where staff choose an electric vehicle whether it be van or car, they may well take them home with them at night. This necessitates the need for home charging.

It is very likely that any business case put together for the electrification of an operational fleet will include one or all of the above examples given above. But every business case with have its own differences and therefore its own challenges: there is no standard blueprint or “one fits all” solution. Therefore, the approach to charging infrastructure must not only carefully considered but also guided by knowledgeable and conscientious providers: If the wrong infrastructure is installed, the business case collapses.

By engaging with an infrastructure provider that will design a solution based on your fleet requirements, it not only solidifies the business case for electrifying your fleet but also removes any potential for negativity or scepticism from users regarding the decision to do so.

In order to provide charging infrastructure that is user friendly, resilient and correct for the type and usage of vehicles it is required to charge, the following need to be considered:

CAPACITY:

Confirming that the proposed installation site has adequate capacity for the electric vehicle charging unit to be installed is crucial as no diversity can be allowed for on the circuit supplying them. This means they must have the full charging capacity available to them, (unless load management software is implemented) to prevent tripping of fuses or breakers. It is also imperative that the contracted capacity to the installation from the DNO is not exceeded It is therefore critical that an in-depth capacity check is carried out before charging infrastructure is specified.

LOCATION:

Electrically, the location of the charging units is critical. If they are to be located in an outdoor car park, the electrical installation will be vastly different to an installation for chargers in an underground car park for example because of the earthing required for the charging units by BS EN:7671 wiring regulations.

Installing charging units close to adequately sized supplies is also critical: The further the chargers are from the supplies, the longer the cabling and containment works, the more expensive the install is likely to be.

BACK OFFICE:

EV Charging units connect and communicate with a network known as a ‘back office’ via mobile data (SIM card) or via a data connection of a hardwired router. The back office allows for accurate billing of the use of chargers to users, allows only authorised users of the chargers and critical remote monitoring of the chargers by the installer or manufacture. By having a proven, reliable back office in place for the charging infrastructure on site, many the issues that can occur with the units can be rectified remotely and thus removes downtime and the need for costly maintenance visits.

So, in summary; when considering the electrification of your fleet vehicles, charging of those vehicles and the infrastructure to be implemented should be a significant focus to cement your business case for doing so as the correct solution will provide maximum efficiency and minimum inconvenience for your fleet.

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