The benefits of electrifying your commercial vehicle fleet are clearer than ever. A wider range of commercial models, falling battery prices and longer driving ranges are making the switch more attractive. Add to that a combination of government incentives, fuel savings, and lower maintenance costs can save your business thousands of pounds.
But having a reliable electric vehicle (EV) fleet requires proper charging infrastructure. We’ve put together a guide to what you need to know about commercial vehicle charging.
Understanding Fleet Charging Needs
There are close to 24,000 EV charging points around the UK, with a third of them in London. This makes it easier for staff to charge fleet vehicles on the road, but you are still likely to need EV fleet charging infrastructure on site.
To decide what type of charging points you should install, you should first be aware of your company’s maximum electricity demand. You should consider:
- The type of vehicle most suitable for your needs
- How many vehicles will be charged at once
- The time of day you will charge vehicles
- How long you will have to charge vehicles
- Whether vehicles will need full recharge or topping up
This will also help you understand how adding fleet charging will affect your organisation’s power demand. Keep in mind that different EV models use different types of chargers and charging times vary. If you need fast chargers these will further increase your power consumption and cost more to buy.
The cost of commercial vehicle charging points has three components: hardware, installation, and grid reinforcement.
The extra power consumption can require that you upgrade the electricity supply to the site. Smart metering can help you manage power demand and make sure your business is on the most appropriate electricity tariff.
Selecting the Right Charging Equipment
There are three main types of EV charger to choose from:
- Slow – usually around 3kW, these chargers are best suited to households or overnight charging at commercial premises
- Fast – available in 7kW or 22kW versions, fast chargers are more expensive but more suitable for workplaces as they can charge vehicles in 4-8 hours
- Rapid – typically at least 43kW, rapid and ultra-rapid chargers can charge a vehicle in less than an hour. They can make EVs a viable option for businesses that have drivers on the road most of the time with only short stops on the premises
Analysing your fleet’s activity throughout the day will show which charger type is the most appropriate for your business. It is worth noting that while rapid chargers are the most convenient, they can gradually degrade the battery over time.
Government EV Charging Grants
Once you have determined your fleet charging needs, you can apply for government grants to reduce the upfront costs of installing charging points.
The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) provides vouchers to cover up to 75% of the purchase and installation cost, with a value of up to £350 per charging socket. Organisations can apply for up to 40 sockets.
There are certain conditions attached. You must use an approved charging point installer. The chargepoint should operate for at least three years. Vouchers are issued by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) and valid for four months. The scheme will close on 30 March 2022.
The government also provides tax deductions on costs in the first year of spending on EV fleet charging infrastructure.
There are other benefits too. With an EV fleet you pay lower Class 1a National Insurance contributions on EV company car benefits, 0% benefit-in-kind company car tax rates, no road tax and no congestion charge fees.
Changing Fleet Management Priorities
With traditional commercial vehicle fleets the wide availability of fuelling stations means that the focus of fleet management is on vehicle selection and driver safety rather than the infrastructure. But with EVs charging fleet vehicles becomes the priority.
One of the main concerns for fleet managers is range anxiety. It is important to determine how often drivers will charge vehicles on the premises, at home and at public charging sites on the road. Why? That way you can pick the best EV fleet charging solutions to make sure drivers always have access to chargers.
Incorporating charging data into your backend fleet management system will help you track the status of vehicles. How? Real-time analytics allow you to optimise the use of the fleet, diagnose problems and resolve issues efficiently.
You might also need to consider your fleet’s upfitting needs. Some EVs feature upfits for equipment and power tools that will increase how much power the vehicle uses.
Managing Charging Resources
EV fleet charging solutions also involve devising administration policies to direct employee behaviour. That will help to make the best use of the charging infrastructure.
You will likely need to put policies in place to prompt drivers to share charging stations. You might need to limit their charging time and you can get the best use of chargers by connecting fleet vehicles overnight. Fast chargers make it easier as they have multiple connectors so that several vehicles can charge at once without drivers having to move their vehicles.
Public Charging as Marketing Tool
Another consideration is whether you will allow the public to use your chargers, especially outside business hours. Public EV charging can make use of chargepoints when they might otherwise be idle. You can choose whether to offer free charging to attract customers, set a fee to cover the cost of charging, or use them as an extra source of profit.
Offering public charging points is a good way to create brand loyalty. Consumers are increasingly concerned with corporate responsibility. Having an EV fleet and public access to chargers is a way to boost the green credentials of the business. It shows customers you are taking action to reduce carbon emissions.
Start Your Commercial Vehicle Charging Journey
If you are looking to make your company’s fleet electric, now is the right time to get started on your journey.
At Clarke EV we can tailor EV fleet charging solutions to the needs of your fleet. Whether you have light or heavy commercial vehicles, multiple locations, or a centralised depot, we can help you at every stage, from selecting chargers to maintaining chargepoints. Contact us to find out how.