As individual ownership of personal EVs has seen a sharp increase during the last year, the same can be seen with businesses operating with delivery and courier fleets. This trend does not seem to be slowing down either. An analysis by Centrica Business Solutions (Centrica) of 200 UK-based fleet owning businesses with a turnover in excess of £1million found that 62% expected to operate a fully electric fleet within the next four years, which is comfortably ahead of the UK Government’s 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles, but makes sense when considering typical fleet vehicle replacement cycles.
However, despite the increased use of EVs in business fleets, two-thirds of businesses surveyed by Centrica have concerns about the access their drivers will have to public charging points while on the road. The concern from businesses about the challenge of ‘range anxiety’ has led to many investing in on-site charging infrastructure. Of those businesses surveyed, 48% have already installed charging infrastructure on their premises and a further 36% are intending to invest in on-site charging infrastructure within the next year.
Although businesses are adapting and seeking to invest in on-site EV chargers, this will not solve the charging needs of fleet vehicles which are not positioned in a depot overnight and so businesses are also having to consider how to cater to the charging needs of fleet vehicles which are parked at private residences when not it use.
Others in the industry believe that the current ‘range anxiety’ of many businesses is misguided as national charging infrastructure continues to scale and that these concerns can be addressed through the deployment of effective fleet management software.
Businesses cannot afford for their fleets to be offline for extended periods during the day while the drivers wait for the EVs to charge and to address this challenge, it seems that many businesses could benefit from greater investment in software to optimise charging schedules taking into account different charging solutions which are currently available (from trickle to rapid), effectively manage battery health, and offer more accurate analyses of route data. With further investment in this management software, businesses will be able to dynamically manage the charging needs of their EV fleets by structuring charging schedules which map to the specific requirements of each vehicle (and noting that it may not be necessary to fully charge each vehicle each day) and allow the drivers to know realistically which chargers on their route are accessible and working, should an intra-day charge be necessary.
Greater investment will also lead to improved knowledge and data from businesses of their own EV fleet vehicles, allowing fleet managers to know which EVs require more charge to their batteries and efficient management software will enable these EVs to be prioritised for charge while at the company depot.
For companies that operate sizeable vehicle fleets, in addition to the procurement challenges which are currently present in a market with limited vehicle availability and long delivery lead times, successful implementation of an EV fleet strategy will depend on their ability to link vehicle procurement with the procurement and installation of efficient charging and battery storage infrastructure on a multi-site basis and the integration of these activities with the adoption of effective fleet management software.