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October 5, 2021

Fleet Managers - Which EV Charging Strategy Is Right for You?

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5 MIN. READ

Electrifying your fleet requires a sound EV charging strategy. Cost, time and convenience are important considerations for building a fleet that is ready to hit the road every morning with a full charge. There are different options to explore, including public EV charging stations and investing in your own infrastructure.

The best solution depends on your unique situation. That’s why you should carefully assess your needs and weigh the practicalities of different charging options.

Pros and cons of each EV charging strategy

With 120,000 charging ports across the country, charging networks are growing at a fast pace. The American Jobs Plan that outlines how $2 trillion will be invested to upgrade the infrastructure has provisions for building 500,000 additional stations before 2030.

Public charging

Even though the public infrastructure is growing, accessibility remains sparse. Among those who live in the 50 largest cities in the US, fewer than 10% are within five minutes of a charging station.

Public stations have the advantage of not carrying any upfront costs. But, unless you operate in New York or LA, relying on public stations isn’t realistic. Plus, you would have no control over maintenance and would incur higher charging costs since charging networks set their own rates.

Building your own infrastructure

Upgrading your facility with charging ports makes sense if drivers need to visit this central location each day. It represents a significant upfront investment, but you’ll have complete control over maintenance and future upgrades. Besides, you’ll pay the standard electrical rate for charging fleet vehicles.

The main drawback of relying on a central charging location is that it tethers drivers to your facility. Unless they need to stop by this location, for instance to pick up parcels, charging at work limits your service area to a radius of 110 to 370 miles around your facility, depending on the make and model of the EVs you use.

Charging at home

There is a third EV charging strategy to consider. You can install at-home charging stations for your drivers. You’ll get the best of both worlds with an infrastructure you retain control over, and you won’t tether your drivers to a central location.

The drawbacks are similar to charging at work. There is an upfront cost for installing EV charging stations. Plus, deployment can be complex since you’ll have to deal with a wide range of scenarios with drivers who might need an outdoor or indoor installation, those who live in multi-unit residences, and local building codes and permits for electrical upgrades.

However, deployment is an obstacle you can easily overcome. A recent study found that a majority of potential buyers for EVs can easily charge their vehicle at home.

Charging at home is an interesting option because it allows for a streamlined workflow. Drivers can charge their vehicle overnight and start their day with a full battery. They can drive to your facility if they need to, or head to their first appointment of the day. Each driver can drive within a certain radius around their home. This allows you to cover a broader service area by hiring drivers in different locations.

Level 1 vs Level 2 charging

The voltage of a charging station varies. The fastest charging stations, also known as Level 3 or DC fast-charging stations, can charge a battery within a few minutes with a voltage of 400 to 900V. Unfortunately, it’s not a solution you’ll find outside of major charging networks.

If you decide to install EV charging stations at home or at work, you’ll have to choose between Level 1 and Level 2 stations:

  • Level 1 stations charge an EV at 120V. It takes an hour to get 3-5 miles. It’s a slow method, but upfront costs are low since you can use a regular wall outlet.
  • Level 2 stations have a voltage of 240V. You can get 12-80 miles per hour of charging. However, you’ll need to install a dedicated circuit for a 240V line.

Factors that should influence your charging strategy

The best EV charging strategy depends on your unique situation. So, here are a few things to consider:

  • Electrification is an investment. You need to look into how much you can afford to spend on your infrastructure, or on an individual allowance for each driver in the case of at-home charging.
  • Your fleet geography and service area. Consider whether there are public ports within your service area, how long routes are and what range drivers would need.
  • According to Consumer Reports, EV owners can save $800-1,000 a year over those who drive fuel-powered cars. Electric fleets have a higher ROI. However, you need to determine upfront installation costs and charging rates to make accurate predictions.
  • The total cost of ownership. You should be able to save $6,000-10,000 over the lifetime of each EV in repairs and maintenance, but don’t forget to factor in the TCO of the EV charging stations. Depending on where you operate, local tax credits could offset your TCO.

If you opt for charging at home for your fleet, one crucial element to consider is the cost of EV charger installations in the diverse home configurations of all your drivers. This can be a bigger challenge for geographically distributed fleets because working with contractors in different regions or states can turn out to be a bigger project than expected.

Get help from Qmerit

Qmerit offers a white-glove concierge service for @Home EV charging solutions. We can help with the electrification of your fleet by planning for the installation of Level 2 @Home stations for your drivers. You’ll get all the benefits of charging at home with a simple implementation process thanks to our experts who can navigate installation, any necessary electrical upgrades and local building codes. Qmerit also works with premier EV makers and manufacturers, enabling us to help you make a smooth transition. Contact us to learn more about how we can help with your EV charging strategy!

Ken Sapp Qmerit- SVP, Business Development