How to get started with EV charging: a guide for public and private fleet operators

By
June 16, 2022

Global surface transport by road and rail accounts for a staggering 37% of the world’s CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency. Fortunately, the green transport revolution is underway, with governments and policymakers across Europe incentivising the uptake of electric vehicles for private, public and commercial use. For fleet managers there is a lot to consider on the road to zero emissions transport. That’s why, at Heliox, we’ve outlined all you need to know before making the decision to switch to a future-proof, electrified fleet.  

Why choose an EV fleet?  

There are a raft of benefits to choosing an EV fleet that broadly fall into three categories: financial, operational and environmental. With the volatile price of fuel and record high oil prices, more and more transport companies are choosing to go green for financial reasons. Not only do EVs shield drivers from the high cost of fuel at the pump, they also help with forecasting costs by largely eliminating the uncertainty around fluctuating fuel prices, which hamper medium to long term projections.  

EV fleets require less operational maintenance and don’t require oil changes, transmission fluid flushes or any other engine fluid replacements. As maintenance is one of the largest operating expenses for fleet services, the savings can be substantial and compound with a larger EV fleet.

In terms of environmental benefits, transport accounts for about over a third of the world’s energy consumption, which means electrifying transport will play a huge part in building a more sustainable future. EVs emit zero emissions on the road, and throughout their life cycle are significantly less carbon intensive than internal combustion engine vehicles.

How to start the transition to electrified transport

The first step to starting an EV fleet is s identifying which vehicles are straightforward and cost effective to switch to electric equivalents. These could be heavy vehicles such as buses, trucks, cars and light vehicles and vans, or the growing segment of marine fleets.  

Transitioning to BEVs does not need to be complicated, but the key is to understand your milage and the range you need for your fleet. Then you can begin to look which EVs would be most suited to your operations.  

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are completely powered by an electric battery, with no internal combustion engine component. Transitioning to BEVs does not need to be complicated, but the key is to understand your milage and the range you need for your fleet. Then you can begin to look which EVs would be most suited to your operations.  

Most BEVs are suitable for both fast charging and Level 2 charging and have zero tailpipe emissions. For cars their range is typically between 240 and 40 kilometres depending on the model and battery size. On the smaller size, the Nissan Leaf with a 40 kWh battery has an official range of 270 km while the Hyundai Kona with a 64 kWh battery has a 440 km range. For vans the range is between 140 and 320 km, depending on the size of vehicle and payload. The Nissan eNV200 for example, has a 200 km range and the 75kWh battery Vauxhall Vivaro has a 330 km range. Heavy vehicles such as buses, depending on their model and weight, typically have a range between 160 - 400 km although some new market entrants offer close to 500 km ranges.  

Choosing the right EV fleet charging infrastructure

Once you have identified the right EV, it’s time to consider fleet charging infrastructure. EV fleet charging solutions are constantly improving and innovating with more charging methods are being developed and improved year after year. Choosing the right charging infrastructure will vary depending on factors like the vehicle type you are operating, i.e  e-buses, e-trucks or light vehicles, and your typical mileage. There are also key considerations that will affect your operations and efficiency of charging, such as the location of your chargepoints, how much power you need, and AC vs DC charging.

The most commonly used type are Level 2 (L2) chargers, which deliver charge in alternating current (AC) using a charging station that’s either placed on a wall, a pole, or stands on the ground. L2 chargers deliver charge at different kWh, and consequently vary from slow to ultra-fast charging. Ultra-fast charging is delivered using a direct current (DC) charging station, which changes AC to DC, allows the charge to bypass the on-board charger of the electric car and sends power through the Battery Management System directly to the battery.

Choosing the right charging infrastructure will vary depending on factors like the vehicle type you are operating, i.e  e-buses, e-trucks or light vehicles, and your typical mileage.
  • Slow or overnight chargers: 3 kWh – 7 kWh (mainly used in residential settings). For fleets with a mix of cars and vans, 3.7 kW to 7.4 kW chargepoints are likely be sufficient for slow or overnight charging.  
  • Fast chargers: 7 kWh - 22 kWH which is mainly used at business locations and car parks.
  • Ultra-fast chargers: 50 kWh to 300 – 350 kWh+ (mainly used for rapid charging of EVs and larger commercial vehicles) such as the Heliox 600 kW Ultra-fast charging for e-bus and e-truck fleets. Ultra-Fast Level 3 charging is the fastest type of charging available and can recharge an EV at a rate of 3 to 20 miles of range per minute. Unlike Level 1 and Level 2 charging that uses alternating current (AC), Level 3 charging uses direct current (DC). Few residential locations have the high-voltage supply required for Level 3 charging, but it’s ideal for commercial buildings, shopping centres and public charging.

Then there are vehicle-to-grid chargers (V2G). V2G technology enables EV batteries to store energy and release it back to the grid when needed. This means when grid energy demand is high or when there are power outages, V2G enabled chargers can dispatch the energy back to the electricity network. This grid balancing technology will become ubiquitous in future charging equipment, and Heliox 600 kW charging for e-bus and e-truck fleets already comes V2G enabled.  

Mobile charging and battery swap technology is also gaining traction. This entails swapping out an empty battery for a full one from a mobile charging station, which recharges the old one as you drive. Demand for mobile charging is growing. With mobile charging, there’s no need for structural building changes, no large capital cost upfront, and EV fleets who need fast roadside charges – can easily and quickly swap out their batteries.

Global surface transport by road and rail accounts for a staggering 37% of the world’s CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency. Fortunately, the green transport revolution is underway, with governments and policymakers across Europe incentivising the uptake of electric vehicles for private, public and commercial use. For fleet managers there is a lot to consider on the road to zero emissions transport. That’s why, at Heliox, we’ve outlined all you need to know before making the decision to switch to a future-proof, electrified fleet.

EV charging management

Electrifying your fleet requires capital and careful planning. But EV charging can be made simple and streamlined with good management. With Heliox, there are a number of services and solutions we provide to take the stress out of managing and maintaining the charging infrastructure. Our innovative Charging-as-a-Service (CaaS) offer covers every stage of electrification for one low monthly fee, so you can go electric with zero risk or upfront cost. There’s also the added benefit of charging monitoring, using Chargesight. Chargesight is a digital monitoring software that helps you manage and charge your fleet more efficiently and lower your operational costs. It shows real-time data on details like power delivered and session timing, so you always have everything you need to make real, noticeable improvements to your operations.

Many fleet operators are already aware that EVs are a sound investment to future-proof businesses, but there remains uncertainty around how to get started.

Many fleet operators are already aware that EVs are a sound investment to future-proof businesses, but there remains uncertainty around how to get started. The swiftest way transition is with a trusted e-mobility service provider. Our charging services deliver 97% charge efficiency, the highest in the industry and come with 24-hour dedicated support and maintenance.

Find out more about Heliox solutions here.

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