Navigating the Complexity of Fleet Electrification
Words by: Giles Platel, Head of Commercial Fleet Sales at EO Charging
Fleets are now electrifying – at pace and at scale. Every day we speak to another business or local government that’s thinking about how and when to start, if they haven’t already done so. That’s because it’s the logical next step. Not just for long-term economic or operational benefits, but also for environmental reasons – which are top of the agenda for organisations under pressure to hit ambitious zero-emissions targets.
We’ll be honest, electrifying a fleet is not an overnight task. Depending on the size of the vehicle fleet, it can be a complex process that requires a long-term commitment and behavioural change from an organisation and its fleet of drivers.
So, what are the main challenges a fleet manager faces when switching to electric?
1. Kickstart the process with a clear strategy
First, it’s important to establish a clear strategy. Whether you have just five vehicles in your fleet, or 5,000 across 70 depots in seven countries – how do you identify which vehicles or routes can be electrified?
Leveraging data on an existing petrol/diesel fleet is essential. At EO, we call this a Smart Fleet Consultation, analysis of a fleet’s existing telematics data and predicted energy requirements to help identify the optimal pathway for electrification. An upfront assessment can help prevent unnecessary infrastructure investments and low utilisation rates. It can also demonstrate what success looks like to hesitant decision makers in the business, securing buy-in for the wider project.
2. Stakeholder buy-in
Senior decision makers won’t be the only stakeholder speedbump – education and training are required throughout an organisation, from procurement and facilities to ESG and marketing, and of course to vehicle drivers. Without the right onboarding, drivers will be reluctant of the change to a new fleet operating system and way of refuelling. Early inclusion of drivers is critical to the process and can be supported by working with a charging partner, like EO, that provides both education and premium solution.
3. Procurement of suitable vehicles
Cost and availability of suitable commercial electric vehicles has, to date, presented a challenge for large-scale electrification projects, particularly where fleets require a blend of vehicles – i.e., cars, vans and trucks. Vehicle supply is still playing catch-up with the fast-accelerating demand, which can mean long lead times for delivery of stock. Fortunately, this is changing. OEMs are responding at scale with huge commitments on production and delivery of commercial EVs over the next five to ten to years, which will have a dramatic impact on the supply available.
4. Infrastructure installation
With an informed strategy in place, the next thing fleets must tackle is how and where to install the charging infrastructure.
Most cases will inevitably call for a hybrid solution - due to unpredictable vehicle routes, restricted power supply for return-to-depot (RTD) charging, space constraints on site or just simple practicality for return-to-home (RTH) drivers. Requirements for charging infrastructure will evolve alongside the growth of an electric fleet. To address this, fleet managers must underpin their growing charging infrastructure with a centralised software management platform, laying the foundations for scalability and success.
That’s why we’ve built the EO Cloud – an OCPP compliant software platform which aggregates RTD, RTH and on-the-go EV chargers to provide fleet managers with a holistic view of their charging infrastructure no matter the location. With the EO Cloud and EO Hub (imagine this as the ‘brain of the depot’ that connects multiple chargers and speaks directly to the EO Cloud), fleet managers can control and analyse charge scheduling, site load management, vehicle telematics data and energy data across multiple depots and sites. This system also enables drivers to pay for charging at home or on-the-road by tracking fuel costs and making reimbursement seamless.
5. Ongoing services, operation, and management
The challenges for fleet operators don’t end here, which is why organisations are looking for charging providers that can simplify the process with a full 360-degree solution.
Once the switch has happened, ongoing management and maintenance must be considered. EO has a dedicated team that provides customers with 24/7/365 support. We recently executed an operations and maintenance program covering several thousand AC chargers at more than 50 sites across six countries and were able to resolve any Europe-wide on-site or remote issue in an average time of under three hours.
At EO, we’ve spent seven years building our fleet offering in the UK and Europe, guided by partnerships with some of the world’s leading businesses, including Amazon, DHL, Go-Ahead, Tesco and Uber. We know it takes a dedicated group to understand what EV fleets need, why they need it, and how to deliver it, and have made our name by making the transition seamless.