Another responsibility is being added to the already full plate of most fleet managers: a new asset to manage, home EV chargers.
The emergence of this new asset is already starting to have an impact.
One fleet manager estimates he now spends 15 hours a week just dealing with EV home charger issues.
The overwhelming majority of fleet managers have never managed EV chargers as a corporate asset, so very little institutional knowledge is available defining best practices dealing with this topic.
In many ways, the fleets of today, using trial and error, are pioneering tomorrow’s best practices in managing home EV chargers.
Building Best Practices
To begin building a knowledge base, the following are key questions concerning home EV charger management and practices fleet managers are using to address them.
Q. Does the EV charger follow the EV?
Many companies, especially sales fleets, allow employees to take home company vehicles. When these company vehicles are EVs, home chargers are typically installed at the employee’s home.
But what happens when an employee accepts a new position that requires relocation to another city or state, or when an employee is terminated or quits to take another job?
Q. What happens to the EV chargers installed in their homes when the employee is no longer affiliated with the company?
The growing consensus among fleet managers is that if the home charger is hardwired, no attempt will be made to recover it, and it will remain with the house.
This approach appears to be the emerging best practice.
Most companies are making the business decision that an installed, hard-wired home charger is a sunk cost — in other words, a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. To attempt to recover the charger will simply incur an additional charge for removing the installation.
Q. What about liability issues home-installed chargers may pose?
To protect the company, officials may develop a legal waiver to be signed by employees for home EV installations that is codified in fleet policy.
Increasingly, companies are involving their legal departments in creating policies and waivers regarding EV charger installations. At these companies, employees must sign a waiver before a charger is installed in their homes. The waiver, in essence, states the employee will hold the company harmless should something go wrong with the installation.
Upon signing the waiver, the employee, for all intent and purposes, owns the charger since most companies do not want the charger returned at a later date.
Q. What details should be shared with employees?
It is important to let employees know that home EV chargers are a taxable fringe benefit.
Just as a take-home fleet vehicle is a taxable fringe benefit, so, too, are home EV chargers.
Since the company acquired the charger and paid for its installation, home chargers will be regarded as a taxable fringe benefit.
Fleet managers must update their fleet policies covering home chargers — making the employees aware of this tax obligation.
Q. How are difficult installations managed?
This issue is the nuts and bolts of home EV charger installation and gives credence to the saying, “The devil is in the details.”
Typically, the company fleet acquires the charger and pays for its installation at an employee’s home. On average, the cost of a hardwired charger ranges from $800 to $4,200 — sometimes $5,000 — depending on the configuration of the employee’s home.
For example, one installation difficulty arises when the home electrical panel is in a basement, which requires drilling holes through the ceiling to run the wiring.
Another difficulty is posed by installations in detached garages housing the company EV. The garage may not be connected to a power source or the source is located far from the main house.
In this case, trenching may be required to run the cable underground through an electrical conduit. In worst case situations, the trench must be cut through the driveway surface to run the conduit, requiring refilling and repaving the driveway. This scenario almost doubles the price of installation.
Q. What is the response to an employee’s complaint about the installation?
Sometimes even when an installation goes smoothly, the employee homeowner will have a complaint about the installation.
Here’s a real-world example:
A company installed the EV charger on the exterior of the employee’s stucco home. To install the charger, the stucco had to be broken, then repatched around the installed charger. The employee complained the off-color stucco patch did not match the rest of the home and demanded the home be repainted.
Does the company pick up this expense? In this case, the company did repaint, but is this a best practice? Probably not. The possibility of this occurrence should be covered in the legal waiver signed by the employee, an indication of why a legal waiver is a best practice.
Q. Who covers the expense of rewiring a home to accommodate a charger?
Many older homes do not have up-to-date wiring to accommodate an EV charger. In these cases, the home requires rewiring.
One fleet manager-developed option is to set base cost covered by the company for an EV charger; any expense beyond this base cost is assumed the employee homeowner.
Other companies split the additional cost with the homeowner.
In other cases, the corporate risk department becomes involved and vetoes the additional expense out of concern of potential liability exposure if something should go wrong.
In these home rewiring situations, best practices have not been agreed upon in the industry.
Q. How can the fairness issue be handled?
The issue of fairness issue arises when one employee benefits from increased property value due to the electrical rewiring. What are the fairness implications to financially benefit one employee and not others?
In some cases, the fleet department simply sidesteps the issue of having to deal with an older home by assigning the EV to another employee who lives in a newer construction home.
Many of these situations can be addressed in advance by surveying drivers about the age and condition of their homes and the suitability of installing an EV charger.
But again, this is a policy that lacks industry consensus, and the industry will have to see how it plays out in the future.
Q. Are permits necessary?
When outsourcing EV charger installation, some electrical installers have been known to negotiate lower installation costs simply by neglecting to obtain required city permits. While eliminating local permit fees would reduce costs and expedite the installation, the potential liability far outweighs the benefit of saving a few bucks.
The industry best practice clearly advises to follow the letter of the law and comply with all regulations involving EV charger installations.
Q. What about the price differential between residential and commercial EV charger installations?
Fleet managers have cited pushback from corporate executives regarding the funding spent on home EV charger installations. The conversation goes like this, the executive says, “I installed a home charger for my Tesla, which cost much less than what we are paying to charge a company EV.”
The executive’s argument could be true. Sometimes installation companies do charge more to install chargers when they know will be used for commercial purposes versus a residential installation for a private vehicle — even when the charger is identical.
The inference is installers feel they can get away with demanding a higher price because a company would be less likely to quibble over the cost.
In this case, it may pay to shop around or negotiate a more broader-based installation agreement with a national or regional installer.
Q. Do supply chain constraints affect recharger components?
Supply chain constraints are creating long leads to get updated switch gears or transformers to replace outdated charger components.
Today, the lead time on a new ABB transformer order is 12-18 months before you can ever plug in a truck. The long lead time is not with installation, rather that’s how long it takes to get equipment.
An EV charging option used by centrally garaged fleets is depot charging: charging a vehicle overnight and perhaps re-charging at the depot during the day.