As automotive fleets transition to electrification, businesses and government agencies are faced with the new logistical challenge of becoming a fueling provider, in addition to managing a fleet.
The process of determining the best solution can be complicated for fleet managers, with many factors at play.
We’ll walk through key considerations when developing or expanding fleet charging, with recommendations and case studies across light- to heavy-duty fleets to save money, time, and space with future-proof technology.
Assessing Vital Charging Metrics
The first step in the research process is to assess key metrics. Fleet managers will need to determine the size of their electric fleets, the range of the vehicles, battery capacity, route distances, and the time when these vehicles will need to be charged.
Remember to plan ahead — what are the organization’s electrification plans for the next five or 10 years?
The answer to this question, along with the metrics, will guide the type and number of chargers a fleet will need.
There are two primary charging categories for fleets to choose from:
- Level 2 slow chargers if fleet vehicles have a long time period to charge between trips.
- Fast chargers (DCFC) for large fleet vehicles, such as Class 8 trucks, or when fleet vehicles require a faster turnaround between charges.
Fast chargers mainly fall into two categories:
- Traditional fast chargers frequently require extensive and costly utility upgrades and generally can’t be relocated after installation, but offer a fast charge for dozens of vehicles consecutively.
- Battery-integrated fast charging solutions offer easy and cost-effective installation with the ability to relocate the equipment after installation and to minimize energy costs, namely demand charges. However, back-to-back fast charging on a battery-integrated ones can be limited depending on vehicle type. Each type of charger will have different requirements regarding electrical upgrades, ventilation in interior garages, and parking arrangements.
Lessons From Fast Charging Use Cases
Let’s look at some different fast-charging use cases.
- Yusen Logistics has a fleet of electric terminal tractors used to organize shipping containers on their property. These terminal tractors are used 24/7 to support distribution logistics and need to be charged quickly since they don’t see any downtime. Yusen chose FreeWire’s battery-integrated ultrafast boost chargers for their fleet. Battery integration allows Yusen to reduce costly demand charges and lower their operating costs, while still offering an ultrafast charge around the clock. With lower electrical requirements, the configuration also offers the ability to relocate the chargers in the future if needed. This is a strategic ability given that Yusen leases their property.
- A leading driverless robotaxi company based in San Francisco manages hundreds of light-duty electric vehicles at multiple locations nationwide. These light-duty EVs are used 24 hours a day, leaving little time to recharge. This company leases the properties where they store and charge their fleets, and generally need to deploy charging stations within a few weeks of establishing new locations rather than wait for time-consuming electrical grid upgrades. The company chose to install FreeWire's battery-integrated Boost chargers at a 15:1 car-to-charger ratio. This has allowed them to quickly charge vehicles in their fleet without having to wait for the upgrades needed for traditional fast-charging solutions. They can quickly expand their charging infrastructure as needed in the future, and the light-touch installation of boost chargers means the units can be easily moved to new locations.
Navigating EV Charging Incentives
The next example highlights the importance of incentive research. There are dozens of incentive programs nationwide designed to offset the cost of electrification and understanding the availability of these opportunities can save businesses tens of thousands of dollars.
A few important federal incentives to be aware of are the Energy Storage Tax Credit available to battery configured solutions and the EV Charging Tax Credit available to a wide range of charging solutions in certain parts of the country. Some charging providers offer resources to help businesses identify financial incentives that apply to their specific use case. FreeWire for example recently launched its CLAIM service to help site hosts navigate the process of identifying incentives.
The City of Santa Cruz for instance recently identified and received an incentive of over $90,000 to support its electrification goals. The city is electrifying its fleet of refuse trucks and needed a solution that could work with a solar energy system and also charge their heavy-duty Mack LR electric refuse truck.
FreeWire helped the city identify this incentive through the California Energy Commission’s EnergIIZE Fast Track grant program.
Managing Fleet Charging Equipment
Once fleet managers have selected a charging solution and installed their chargers, it’s important to develop a plan for managing the equipment.
This plan should include internal policies for who is authorized to use the chargers, how to monitor and maintain the chargers, and how to use the charger data to improve the fleet’s efficiency.
In many cases, charging providers will offer tools to help with these important steps.
By taking the time to plan and execute properly, businesses and government agencies can ensure that their electric fleets have the proper infrastructure and get the most ROI on their investments.
All while taking pride and leading by example to help create a greener future for their communities.
Russ Jones is the senior director of construction and installation services at FreeWire, a provider of ultrafast EV charging and energy management solutions.