Distributed Energy Resources - March 23, 2022 - By Vic Shao, AMPLY Power
Navigating the Electric Charging Infrastructure Landscape for EV Fleets
As the leading solution in climate stabilization, decarbonization demands are growing rapidly. The electrification of large-scale fleets is an important solution to reduce carbon emissions, as on-road transportation is the largest single contributor of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making up about 29 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2019. However, changing long-standing technology and operations is slow and complex.
There are many unknowns and concerns regarding EV adoption for fleet operators, including price volatility of electricity, managing a fleet of mixed vehicle types, and streamlining charging operations. But with modern problems come modern solutions that fleet operators can implement to successfully manage and scale EV fleet adoption.
CapEx and power price volatility
Unlike traditional diesel or gas prices that vary 18-20 percent per year, EV fleets face intensely fluctuating electricity costs, with some changing 300 percent in a single day. It is difficult for operators to forecast their budgets and have the confidence to scale EV deployments with such high variable costs. In addition to the highly variable fueling costs, getting the charging infrastructure up and running requires high capital expenditures that can price some fleets out of deploying EVs.
Thankfully, with the right infrastructure partners and digital solutions, fleet operators can keep costs low and predictable. Initial set-up costs for infrastructure and ongoing refueling costs can be managed by deploying EVs through charging-as-a-service solutions that require zero upfront capital and incorporate managed charging strategies. These systems automate and optimize charging operations for lowest-cost charging and, in some cases, can provide the added benefit of optimizing charging schedules for lowest carbon impact.
Managing a mixed fleet
While electricity price volatility may be the main hurdle for many fleets looking to deploy EVs, operators with varying vehicle types from different original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) also struggle to streamline management strategies and tools that are interoperable across technologies. For example, some commercial EVs only work with certain charging hardware or come pre-loaded with a specific telematics platform. If these systems can’t integrate, operators are stuck trying to manually manage their new EV fleet across various dashboards and systems. These obstacles leave fleet operators to navigate nuances themselves which slows the pace of EV adoption.
Third-party agnostic charge management software can effectively bridge the gap in standardization and offer a streamlined management tool. This solution eliminates the need to find a system corresponding to a specific vehicle, charger, or vendor by integrating across all technologies and platforms. This approach gives fleets the flexibility they need to deploy the solutions that are the best fit for their operations.
Dwell time and charging logistics
More than 8 million of the nearly 270 million cars, trucks, and vans on the road in the US were part of a fleet in 2020. However, dwell time—the amount of time to charge an EV—can take several hours, which is in stark contrast to the five-minute fueling experience of fossil-fuel vehicles. For many fleet types, including school and transit buses, as well as delivery and goods movement trucks, operational changes may be necessary to account for the time it takes to recharge the vehicles.
Adding workflow data integrations for charging can help streamline the EV adoption process by controlling recharging times when mission-critical vehicles are not in demand. These developments allow fleet operators to focus on the tasks at hand with the reassurance that their vehicles will be ready when they need them.
Innovative and economical EV solutions can help fleets accelerate the transition to electrification and make the process simpler, reliable, and cost-effective while facilitating a more sustainable future. Creating an easier path to EV adoption allows the transportation sector to focus solely on delivering people, goods, or services in an environmentally-friendly way while emerging as a leader in the electric revolution.
Vic Shao is the CEO of AMPLY Power, a comprehensive electric vehicle charging and energy management provider for fleets operating trucks, buses, vans, and light-duty vehicles. Vic founded AMPLY Power in 2018 and previously served as the Founder & CEO of Green Charge Networks (GCN), an energy storage company that manages electric demand and renewable deployment for customers. After GCN was acquired by the international energy provider ENGIE in 2016, Vic oversaw global energy storage project development for ENGIE. Vic is a domain expert and frequent speaker on the topics of solar, energy storage, and electric vehicles, and he serves on the board of New Energy Nexus to promote cleantech entrepreneurship around the world. Vic received his MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia.