Electric vehicles (EVs) are a huge part of the national conversation on energy efficiency and the future of our transportation. The federal government as well as many state governments have made EVs a key focus of energy-efficiency policies. No matter if you own an electric vehicle or not, there is no denying EV adoption rates are on the rise. Investment banking company UBS forecasts an EV share of 20% of the global new car sales in 2025, a 50% share in 2030, and 100% by 2040.
EV fleets are one of the reasons why the adoption rate is growing at such a rapid pace. As more companies transition to EV vehicles for their fleets, fleet managers and fleet operators have to consider how to charge their commercial fleet and keep them running through deliveries and other types of business-related transportation. So, what is fleet charging?
Fleet charging is the replenishment of the amount of power EV fleet vehicle batteries have by plugging into EV fleet charging stations. Just like a traditional, internal combustion engine vehicle needs fuel, an electric car needs to recharge its battery every so often to continue to be operable. Fleet charging is also known as fleet electrification.
Fleet charging stations are installed in commercial or industrial locations and include multiple charge points. To charge a commercial EV fleet vehicle a driver simply plugs the vehicle into the EV charger station through a connector.
The charging time for a fleet vehicle can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more depending on how much power was already in the car prior to charging, what level charger you are using (more on this later), and the EV fleet vehicle manufacturer.
Before we dig deeper into EV fleet charging, let’s quickly go over what an EV fleet is.
An EV fleet is a group of electric vehicles owned or leased under the same ownership. Fleet vehicles can be operated by a business, government agency, non-profit organization, among other entities. Familiar examples include taxis, city vehicles, freight trucks, or delivery vans.
An EV fleet vehicle helps a business maintain a professional appearance with the public as well as generate awareness of their brand.
Fleet EVs can be made up of light-, medium-, or heavy-duty vehicles.
Commercial EV fleet vehicles can be used for day-to-day corporate business like deliveries, meetings, and conferences. They can also be used to transport employees around and goods.
EV fleet management is the supervision of EV fleet operations, including the condition of the EV fleet vehicles, the charging needs of the EVs, and the EV charging infrastructure itself.
In order to successfully manage your commercial electric vehicle fleet, you’ll have to consider the number of vehicles in the fleet and the total number of miles the vehicles will be traveling. You’ll have to consider where the EV fleet drivers will have to charge in order to complete their jobs – work-base fleet charging stations, EV fleet charging stations built-in key locations related to your fleet’s route, or on the road at public charging points. It will more than likely be a combination of the options.
There are three levels of charging: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 or DC fast chargers.
Level 1 is the standard home charger with a wall plug of 120 volts and is the slowest type of EV charging equipment. Level 2 chargers are usually found at work or public charging stations and use 240 volts. Level 3 chargers are the most robust of the three and charge with 480 volts. Level 3 chargers are the fastest way to charge an electric vehicle.
Level 1 and Level 2 chargers supply alternating current (AC) from the grid, which has to be converted by the electric vehicle’s battery to direct current (DC) since EV batteries can only accept DC current. This conversion is what makes Level 1 and Level 2 chargers so much slower than Level 3 chargers.
There are currently three types of DC fast charging: Combined Charging System (CCS), CHAdeMO (“CHArge de MOve”), and Tesla Supercharger. Tesla Superchargers only work with Tesla vehicles, but can charge with the other chargers through an adaptor. Not every EV can charge with Level 3 chargers.
Fleet charging solutions
EV fleet charging stations can be installed where you need them, whether that is at the office headquarters or a strategic location on the fleet EV route. The only variant to location is EV charging infrastructure. EV charging stations need to be able to tap into the grid in order to electrify a fleet. Charging infrastructure can be designed and constructed with or without existing electrical infrastructure.
Electric vehicles present a whole new set of challenges when compared to diesel or gas-powered cars. Fleet customers looking for an affordable, sustainable way to electrify their vehicles need to be aware of these challenges. Fleet owners need to be aware of high demand charges and the energy cost associated with EV infrastructure. Incorporating things such as energy storage and smart charging will help keep electricity costs down.
Level 1 chargers are the least expensive, with Level 2 chargers at the middle price point, and Level 3 chargers are the most expensive of the three.
Level 1 chargers are not a good option for commercial facilities, not only because they are too slow, but they can overload the electrical circuits at a facility. Level 1 chargers were not designed for commercial use, but for residential use, and that is why they can cause electrical issues when used for a large operation.
Most commercial facilities opt for Level 2 chargers at their sites, since they are more affordable than DC fast chargers and have a sufficient charging speed. Other commercial facilities with heavy-duty EVs (and sometimes medium-duty) choose Level 3+ chargers due to the fact that their operations demand the most robust charging solution available for their fleet vehicles.
Businesses located off of highways or other major roads may choose DC fast chargers because they want to be able to attract customers that need to make a quick pit-stop and don’t have the time to wait for a Level 2 charger to finish charging. Tesla charging stations are some of the most popular commercial EV charging stations due to the popularity of Tesla vehicles.
Should you invest in EV charging stations?
Yes, don’t wait and regret while you play catch-up a few years from now. As mentioned earlier in this article, EV adoption is surging with all signs pointing to the majority of the cars on our roads being EVs in the near future.
As your customers and employees switch to electric vehicles, they’ll be looking to patronize and work at a company that prioritizes EV charging.
Whether it’s for workplace charging or fleet charging, your facility will benefit immensely from having EV charging stations.
Connect with a commercial EV charging company like WattLogic that offers turnkey EV charging fleet solutions so you can reap the benefits without the concerns of designing, choosing an EV charging station manufacturer, permitting, applying for incentives or rebates, and installation.
This is your opportunity to be a forward-thinking business that becomes a part of the conversation.