January 24, 2024

EV Maintenance Strategies and Solutions for Successful Fleet Electrification

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8 Min. Read

Around the world, many organizations are taking a concrete step toward reducing emissions by working to electrify their fleets. Besides supporting a strong environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) strategy, fleet electrification can reduce organizational and operational costs, improve your fleet’s efficiency, and help your business connect with your audience over shared values.

Electrification is a major movement that is changing the world around us, and as with any major change, it comes with its challenges.

Joining the energy transition and electrifying your fleet will require some adjustments, including a new electric vehicle fleet maintenance strategy designed to keep your EVs in optimal condition, but as many organizations are discovering, the benefits of fleet electrification far outweigh the upfront cost and necessary structure changes to support EV charger installation and the technology driving a new era of transportation.

Predictive Maintenance: Enhancing Fleet Efficiency

Predictive maintenance allows you to address issues before they impact your fleet and cause downtime. Besides inspecting vehicles and your EV charging equipment and training drivers to look for potential signs of trouble, you can leverage technology to implement your predictive electric vehicle fleet maintenance plan.

EVs facilitate predictive maintenance with telematics. Electric vehicles come with advanced sensors that can collect and share data reflecting the health of the vehicle, allowing you to closely monitor your entire fleet.

You can combine this valuable data with AI-powered tools capable of issuing health scores for each EV, predicting breakdowns, and indicating which vehicles need maintenance first.

While technology streamlines maintenance, human expertise is just as important. You should partner with an electrical contractor as part of your electric vehicle fleet maintenance plan to have an expert inspect your EVs and EV chargers regularly and catch issues early.

While EVs will require less maintenance than traditional internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, there are still maintenance steps that should regularly be checked, and your EV charging stations should also be routinely inspected for seasonal and preventative maintenance.

Battery Health Management: Maximizing EV Fleet Performance

Keeping batteries in optimal shape results in an optimized range for your entire fleet. Your electric vehicle fleet management plan needs to include steps for preventing battery degradation, a phenomenon that will gradually reduce the range of your fleet, heighten range anxiety, and potentially result in costly repairs.

You can prevent battery degradation by keeping battery levels between 20 and 80%, prioritizing Level 2 charging over DC Fast charging, protecting EVs from extreme temperatures, and avoiding rapid acceleration followed by harsh braking.

A battery management system can support these best practices by leveraging telematics and remote monitoring. Smart charging software can also automatically prevent overcharging.

Charging Infrastructure Maintenance: Ensuring Seamless Operations

Different charging models are emerging for electric vehicle fleets, including centralized charging depots and decentralized infrastructures where drivers have access to at-home charging. Some fleets are also relying on third-party facilities to top off EV batteries.

Keeping your charging infrastructure in optimal shape is an important part of electric vehicle fleet maintenance. If your fleet uses a centralized charging facility for Level 2 EV chargers and DCFC, or Level 3 EV charging stations, scheduling routine inspections of the chargers, cleaning, and testing will ensure uptime. With a centralized depot, you may have a slightly more limited range, but you may be able to utilize your fleet as an additional power source through bidirectional charging, as well as have increased control over the charging of fleet vehicles.

For at-home charging, training fleet drivers to keep the chargers clean and how to coil cables properly can make a difference, but you should also have a professional electrician skilled in Level 2 EV charger installation and maintenance inspect individual chargers regularly. At-home Level 2 EV charger installation in the homes of your fleet drivers can allow you to expand your fleet driving range and can provide an added layer of convenience for your fleet and fleet drivers. Additionally, vehicles stored off-site will reduce your need for a parking structure and can help reduce the overhead costs of parking facilities.

Regardless of whether your fleet charges with Level 2 EV charger or DCFC EV charging stations or if the fleet vehicles are charged at a centralized charging depot or the homes of your EV fleet drivers, all EV charger installations should be performed by a qualified and licensed electrician with experience installing and servicing EV charging stations.

A licensed electrician can support your business in ensuring all Level 2 and DCFC EV charger installations are safe, high-quality, and installed to code. Additionally, working with a qualified individual can help prevent downtime with permitting issues and faulty installations, and can even help to ensure that your installation is best designed to meet the needs of your business and your fleet drivers. If you are utilizing any incentives from government or utility programs, your electrician will also work to ensure all requirements are met for you to qualify and receive those benefits.

Hiring an unqualified individual or company can put your business, your drivers, and even your reputation at risk, and any damages, injuries, or losses resulting in a faulty installation by an unqualified individual may void any warranties or insurance your company holds. 

If you use public chargers to extend your fleet’s range, a partnership with the operator can ensure guaranteed uptime as well as competitive pricing. However, you should implement a backup solution since 20% of EV drivers reported running into offline chargers when using public charging. While public charging infrastructure is rapidly expanding and improving, there is also high demand for public charging stations, and fleets that exclusively utilize public chargers may experience delays while waiting in line to charge.

Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Integration: Balancing Fleet and Grid Needs

A growing number of EVs are supporting bidirectional charging, a technology that allows for Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), Vehicle-to-Building (V2B), or Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) integration.

Bidirectional energy flow creates an additional source of value for your EV fleet, whether you’re taking advantage of net metering programs to upload energy to the grid, turn your vehicles into a backup energy source for your building, or use leftover energy to power other vehicles.

If you want to explore these possibilities, you should update your electric vehicle fleet maintenance plan to include bidirectional charging. You should test discharging, monitor the health of your local battery system if applicable, and have an expert check your interface with the power grid regularly to ensure everything is operating a optimal efficiency.

Before integrating bidirectional charging into your electric vehicle fleet management strategy, you should determine conditions for charging and discharging as well as set guidelines for identifying the most valuable use of the energy stored in your EVs.

Telematics and Remote Monitoring: Real-Time Fleet Health Insights

EVs are modern vehicles that make extensive use of sensors and data, making incorporating real-time fleet health insights into your electric vehicle fleet maintenance plan more accessible than ever.

Advanced tracking systems are an ideal solution for monitoring charging status, state of charge, or driving habits. Besides keeping drivers accountable, these systems can help identify vehicles in need of maintenance.

Leveraging telematics requires you to incorporate the right software into your fleet management plan.

Employee Training Programs: Empowering Fleet Management Teams

Fleet electrification is a major change, and everyone has a role to play. Providing training ensures that drivers, fleet managers, and other players follow best practices and get the most out of the electrification project.

Training should cover strategies to conserve energy when driving, best charging practices, range anxiety, topping off, and calculation payloads for EVs. Look into collaborating with a training provider as part of your electric vehicle fleet maintenance plan to create a customized training program that leverages outside expertise.

Collaboration with OEMs and Service Providers: Streamlining Electric Vehicle Fleet Maintenance Processes

You’ll get better results if you tailor your approach to fleet maintenance based on the makes and models of the EVs you invested in. Consider collaborating with OEMs to gain valuable insights into specific maintenance requirements for your EVs. Besides receiving helpful maintenance tips, you’ll benefit from expert knowledge and will also have access to purchasing options for genuine OEM parts.

You should also look into building partnerships with service providers who can inspect, test, and repair your EVs as needed.

Environmental Impact Considerations: Sustainable Electric Vehicle Fleet Maintenance

Even when accounting for manufacturing, EVs significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to gas-powered vehicles.

However, operating an electric vehicle fleet still has an environmental impact, especially when the time comes to replace EV batteries. You can mitigate this impact by adopting strategies to enhance battery longevity. Your organization can also take part in recycling programs for old batteries or explore the possibility of giving old EV batteries a second life by incorporating them into your local energy storage solution.

You can go further by implementing a charging strategy that prioritizes using power from renewable sources, for instance, by partnering with your utility provider.

Create an Electric Vehicle Fleet Maintenance Plan With the Right Partnerships

Fleet electrification calls for a new approach to maintenance. As a fleet manager, you can cut costs and improve uptime by prioritizing predictive maintenance rather than reacting to issues after they appear.

Your maintenance plan should address multiple components, such as battery health, charging infrastructure maintenance, V2G equipment, and more. Due to the complex nature of EV fleet maintenance, it’s best to seek outside expertise early in the process of developing your maintenance strategy.

With the right partnerships in place, you’ll have access to the expertise needed to develop a maintenance plan that gives your fleet a competitive edge. Get started today by exploring advanced maintenance solutions with Qmerit.

About Qmerit

As the most trusted EV charger installation partner in North America, Qmerit has the largest network of certified electricians. With over 269,000 successful installation projects, our experts have the knowledge and experience needed to keep your electric vehicle fleet up and running.

All Qmerit-certified electricians are licensed, thoroughly vetted, background-checked, and trained in EV charger installation to ensure we deliver the highest level of safety and satisfaction. And with the largest network in North America, we can support your fleet operations no matter where you need EV charger installations.

With end-to-end support, our dedicated team will help you every step of the way and ensure your electrification journey is charged for a successful future in sustainability and efficiency. Take the first step towards optimized electric fleet maintenance.

Learn more about Qmerit Charge@Home™ for Fleets or give us a call at (888) 272-0090

Author: Ken Sapp

Ken Sapp

Senior Vice President, Business Development and eMobility