Light years ahead: charging considerations for scaling light-duty fleets
As momentum builds for both fleets and personal vehicles to transition to electric, light-duty fleets are beginning to scale. For example, rental companies like Hertz are incorporating Tesla vehicles, and Enterprise is adding EV rental vans. Rideshare companies are also electrifying, for example, Lyft is targeting to have 100 percent EV fleets by 2030, and Uber partnered with Hertz to allow drivers to rent EVs.
Light-duty fleets are able to move past pilots and small deployments because the vehicles are more widely available, and the infrastructure requirements are less complex than bus and truck fleets. In addition to rental cars and ride shares, other use cases include government, corporate, utility, last-mile delivery, university campus fleets, and more.
Fortunately, many of the lessons that we’ve learned through electrifying more energy-intensive and complicated medium- and heavy-duty fleets prove useful in guiding light-duty fleet transformations. In this blog, we’ll discuss the three charging infrastructure solutions needed to effectively support light-duty fleets, including on-site depots, on the road, and at home charging–and how all can benefit from charge management software to increase vehicle uptime and lower energy costs.
You still need depot charging
Just as heavy- and medium-duty fleets typically operate from a centralized depot, many light-duty fleets also have a centralized base of operations or common area where vehicles dwell for a period of time that should be equipped to support fleet charging.
When designing on-site depot charging, light-duty fleets should consider whether they need permanent infrastructure, semi-permanent, or mobile charging–and often a mix of all three is best. We’ve seen success recently with our inrush containerized, portable charging and mobile charging solutions to customize the fleet’s charging operations.
To help weigh the options, fleet operators should consider:
- The number of EVs being deployed today, and in the next 6–12 months
- How often the vehicles will need to be charged on-site
- Is the land owned or leased
After doing this initial assessment, light-duty fleets should consider engaging with energy management and charging infrastructure experts to help assess the right mix of chargers needed to ensure the charging depot is right-sized and future-proofed.
As light-duty fleets tend to not have fixed routes or fixed shifts, often leading the vehicles to travel longer distances, many will need to charge on the go, away from their depots. The most effective way to do this is with EV roaming networks, which make it easy for drivers to charge their vehicles at different public charging stations–this is also referred to as charging “in the wild”.
Roaming networks allow EV drivers to find–typically via a mobile app–and access charging while streamlining payments. To implement this solution, fleet operators must ensure that their drivers can access these networks and integrate with their overall charge management system (CMS) and other back office solutions.
To support charging in the wild, bp pulse is currently working on partnerships with roaming networks to assist fleet operators while helping them maintain visibility with their existing CMS. We’re eager to continue exploring this space as we draw on the expertise of our parent company’s bp pulse network, the largest network of public chargers in the UK.
Considering at-home charging
For some light-duty fleet types, such as ride-hail or last mile delivery, drivers will take their vehicles home at the end of the day, which means fleet operators will need at-home charging capabilities.
It can be helpful to have a trusted partner to advise on infrastructure needs, technology procurement, project management for at-home installations, fleet systems integration, seamless expense reporting and other reporting capabilities, and provide troubleshooting support when needed. Additionally, just like with charging in-the-wild, it’s beneficial to integrate at-home charging with a fleet’s overall CMS, so that fleet managers can have full visibility into the vehicle’s charging, operability, and energy costs.
Software for managed charging is key
In addition to having multiple charging options as discussed above, light-duty fleets have more vehicle options compared to medium- and heavy-duty fleets, which multiplies the complexity of managing charging operations. This is why software is essential for scalability for any light-duty fleet. CMS visibility across depots, on-the-go, and at-home charging operations ensures that fleet managers have a clear line of sight into vehicle readiness and can optimize charging for cost, environmental impact, battery health, and other factors. Whether the fleet roster includes ten vehicles or a thousands, software-powered managed charging can seamlessly and accurately track charge levels, duty cycles, utility rates, and other critical operational metrics.
Fleet electrification isn’t a one-size-fits-all process — many companies have a mixture of different vehicle types, different duty cycles, and other considerations. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve invested heavily in creating a robust CMS with our omega charge management system. With software-powered managed charging, fleet operators of any size don’t have to worry about the complexities of ensuring vehicle charge readiness and can instead focus on their core businesses. In addition, our team of experts have worked on some of the most complex fleet electrification projects–from site design and procurement, to construction and activation–and are committed to delivering projects on time and on budget (regardless of the complexities).
We’re excited to see the continued progress that light-duty electrification makes over the coming months and look forward to the opportunity to support operators in their journeys.