4 Top Tips for Designing the Ideal EV Depot

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July 26, 2022

For fleet managers, future-proofing transport services is vital. Going electric with your fleet can yield huge advantages including reduced costs and maintenance with minimal service disruption. But how do you get started? In this blog, we’re offering the top 4 things you need to know to get started designing the ideal EV depot for your fleet.  

Why should you electrify your fleet?

Reducing emissions from transport is a pressing issue high on the agenda of many national governments and regional authorities. To accelerate the transition away from internal combustion engines (ICE) a raft of incentives and funding programs are being rolled out in countries around the world. These incentives deliver direct benefits for fleet managers, transit authorities and sustainable transport professionals.

Transitioning your fleet to electric is the quickest and most effective way to create long-term reductions in your organization’s CO2 emissions and by extension, public transit’s impact on the surrounding environment and health. Cities all over the world are finding that the move to electrifying fleets will also save them money. In the US, transport service operators can save up to 50,000k a year in fuel and maintenance costs per e-bus, compared to ICE buses.  

Not only does going electric help your organization reduce its carbon footprint, improve the local environment, and promote public health and wellbeing, but it can also save you a lot of money over the long-term and reduce financial instability from fluctuating gas prices.  

To get started on your journey to green transport, we’ve rounded up the top 4 tips for fleet managers looking to go electric and save money.  

Tip 1 - Involve your utility early

Charging a fleet of EV buses or trucks takes a large amount of power. Because of this, there is a good chance you will likely need significant electrical upgrades to have sufficient power to run your EV charging stations.

To make the process of designing your depot as straightforward as possible, contact your local energy provider early on. In fact, it should be one of the first steps in the process. Public power utilities play a key role in the expansion of electric bus fleets by putting the infrastructure in place to support transportation electrification goals. By engaging with them early and making them a stakeholder in your project, you can kickstart the process of ensuring that sufficient energy is delivered to your depot.  

It’s also worth keeping in mind that there will be many decisions that need to be made that will involve your local energy provider. It’s about more than just the space above ground that will be used for the EV charging depot, there’s also be the need for sufficient underground space for the addition of any equipment and upgrades below ground including a transformers and switchgears.

Generally, the sooner you contact your utility provider and involve them as a stakeholder in the process, the sooner you will be up and running, and able to avoid any potential choke points.  

Tip 2 - Prepare for expansion now

One of the main benefits of going electric with your fleet is the cost benefit. The larger your fleet, the greater the savings on fuel, operations, maintenance and day to day running of your vehicles.

Your pilot project may only be for a single e-bus or e-truck, but if you have even the slightest feeling that you will be adding more EVs in the future, we recommend you prepare your location for your future EV charging installations now.

When we talk about preparing your location, we’re not suggesting you rush out and buy twenty charging stations right away (unless you really want to, in which case, give us a call). We're talking about the "make ready" part of your project - supplying enough energy to your site, running conduit, placing switch gears and transformers. These parts of the EV charging setup process can all require a fair amount of consultation and construction, and can be done well in advance of the actual station installation. So, even if you're only installing one station today, down the road, you’ll be grateful you prepped your site for another dozen or so stations now rather than have to break ground for a second or third time.

Tip 3 - Keep your OEMs engaged throughout the process

Whether you procure your EVs or charging stations first, it’s vital to keep all the stakeholders engaged throughout the duration of your project to make sure every component is set up correctly and running in concert with all of the other pieces of your project.  

In cases where an e-bus or e-truck solution is sourced prior to making any EV infrastructure considerations there can sometimes be downstream issues with interoperability or implementation as the project develops. To nip these potential issues in the bud, it’s important to keep all your suppliers involved throughout your project and communicate with them regularly about the progress. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and any complications can be addressed early on before they snowball into more costly issues down the line.  

Keeping your OEMs engaged is the key to ensuring front-end interoperability and being able to truly make the transition to a fully electric fleet as smooth as possible.  

Tip 4 - Plan your entire EV charging ecosystem now

EV depot charging is just one piece of a large network of actors that all co-operate to make green transport possible.  

It can help to think about your depot as one part of an efficient, large-scale EV fleet ecosystem. In this ecosystem, buses or trucks with longer routes or greater service times will require on-route charging for quick top ups. This will ensure they make it back to the depot at the end of the day. These on-route charging stations will need to be carefully planned in conjunction with the EV charging depot. It’s important to find a location a suitable distance away from the depot where you can install a high-power opportunity charging station to extend as many of your EVs times on the road and keep their wheels turning for more hours each day.  

In some cases it may be necessary to consider a microgrid solution to fully execute the additional charge placements. Ultimately, understating your on-route charging needs will help inform any decisions that need to be made well in advance of the construction of the electric bus charging ecosystem.  

And there you have it. Our four key tips for transit and transportation managers looking to electrify their vehicles. Transitioning to EV fleet management is a wise and proactive decision, but one that comes with many obstacles and considerations. To find further information and guidance to get you started, reach out to our EV charging experts.

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