EV charging networks are getting smarter and more available. The big question for fleet managers is what combination of accesses works best: In-house chargers, depots, shared charging networks, home-based charging, public chargers?
Finding the right combination requires a close look and testing of different charging scenarios. Technology will better inform fleet operations in real time of where to find a charging station.
In a recent Charged Fleet webinar, Closing the Circuit on Electric Vehicle Planning & Implementation, Verizon Connect product strategy manager Steve Hemenway draws on his experience with telematics clients transitioning to electric vehicles.
The Verizon Connect sponsored webinar, which aired on Feb. 15, examined the charging options, equipment, and arrangements needed to ensure fleets can run on the most efficient and productive duty cycles.
Hemenway addressed these key questions in his presentation:
What are the key steps of creating a charge plan and making sure it's one best suited to a fleet?
- Understand the charging times and requirements based on vehicle type.
- Schedule fleet charging at optimal times and look at your overall consumption for your operation. Include members of your facilities operations and finance teams to help establish a broad view of electricity consumption and charging demand.
- Monitor charging patterns and habits; identify trouble spots where EVs might be charging at the same time.
- Set up heat mapping to look at converging routes for charging station locations. Monitor overnight charging for your vehicles and get specific data consumption and timing metrics.
What are some of the pros and cons for outsourcing fleet charging versus developing and installing chargers on your own?
- If you're outsourcing your charging to a network, you’ll be dealing with experienced providers who know how to handle fleets. They’ll have answers to your questions and to ones you don’t think of and access to consultants and electrification experts.
- Identify your fleet’s customized needs and specs. Then ask if the outsourced charging network provides the flexibility you need.
- Remember, you’ll be competing or at least accommodating other fleet users at shared facilities, so consider having reliable access to Level 3 fast charging during emergencies or urgent duty calls.
What does a realistic workable scenario or case study look like in finding optimal charging times for a fleet?
- It’s a combination of costs and access, which technology can help identify. Many network providers are emerging with flexible programs for balancing charging loads with demand.
- Look for reservation or access tools that cover multiple charging depots and networks.
- Identify alternate electric sources, including private ones such as reserve battery storage, solar-powered charging stations, and even revenue producing chargers that can supplement charging budgets.
- Consider “power in numbers” options such as electric cooperatives, places with pooled power resources, mobile charging.
What are some of the best tactics in determining EV range and what variables should fleet managers factor that could shorten the range on an EV?
- A fleet manager needs to test EVs to determine the ranges for particular use cases, and then figure how much power the EV consumes, the usage of the vehicle, the loads and terrain, and idle, drive, stop and park times.
- Track the data for different routes and then apply it to your assumptions before committing to specific types of EVs.
- Ask fleet drivers to assess the safety and performance of prospective EVs.
- Sample charging stations to evaluate access, locations, and reliability of chargers.
- Test out EVs in different weather and road conditions: How does an EV run on a long upward hill or grade in 30-degree temperatures?
What future innovations should fleet managers plan in their roadmap for charging and electrification?
- Consider and track emerging technologies that can help future proof electrification plans.
- Charging platforms are advancing and evolving rapidly. Protocols will incorporate new data to help fleet managers plan their daily operations.
- Reciprocal charging can allow for homes and vehicles to power one another, meaning a take-home fleet vehicle could help power the home of the driver assigned to it.
- Apps and security protocols will be able to spot faulty or down chargers, preventing fleets from wasting time with “plug and play” approach with broken chargers. Likewise, apps could identify vacant chargers.
- A combination of registration, roaming, metering and payment tracking technology can allow fleet drivers to have the same access and flexibility with chargers that they now get with a fuel card.
- Different charging networks will likely find ways to integrate and thereby widen access to smart charging in the same way a local bank ATM card can be used at ATMs that are part of outside global networks.
- Look for more opportunities to integrate peripheral technologies and systems of record into existing telematics, such as asset tracking solutions, smart video, or roadside assistance connections.
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