What to Consider When Preparing for eBus and eTruck Charging

The Business of Charging |

Passenger vehicles get a lot of attention, but electric vehicles actually account for a greater percentage of the market in another area: buses and trucks. About 7 percent of new buses will be electric this year, compared to about 1 percent of new passenger vehicles in the U.S., and fleets will electrify much faster than passenger vehicles are expected to: electric buses will be 40 percent of the market by 2022, thanks to major financial, environmental and operational benefits. As a fleet manager, you’re probably considering electrifying your fleet if you haven’t already. This post contains several important points for you to consider as you build out the charging infrastructure for your heavy-duty fleet.

“It’s going to be so clear that electric is better than diesel that the conversation… about diesel fuel will be over in public transit in just a couple years.”

– Matt Horton, Chief Commercial Officer, Proterra

Organizations like DHL, UPS and even Zion National Park are electrifying large vehicle fleets, while New York is aggressively transitioning to emissions-free fleets and 12 cities worldwide have committed to buying only electric buses by 2025. This makes now a great time to take a closer look at the steps involved to successfully transitioning your heavy-duty fleet to fueling on electricity.

1. More Electricity Equals Fewer Dollars

The coming availability of many new electric trucks and buses will continue to advance heavy-duty fleet electrification rapidly and realize many benefits in cities and beyond. Electric buses are much cleaner and quieter than diesel buses, helping improve local air quality and reduce noise in cities. Fueling with electricity instead of diesel or compressed natural gas (CNG) delivers significant cost savings, and the lower maintenance costs associated with electric vehicles can save fleets thousands of dollars per vehicle per year, or potentially as much as millions of dollars per year across large fleets. Additionally, networked charging systems that track and manage fleet energy needs help simplify and optimize electric fleet operations, saving even more money. When making the case for going electric, calculating the substantial savings you can achieve is a good way to start.

2. Start Planning Your Charging Infrastructure Now

If you’re starting to see that electrification is the future of fleets, now is the time to start planning for your heavy-duty fleet charging infrastructure. From the start, keep in mind that buses and trucks have higher power needs than passenger vehicles, because they need larger batteries to power their greater weight and support trips along transit or delivery routes. This means that heavy-duty fleets may rely on high-power DC charging in depots or on routes to fuel vehicles in the minimal time allocated to charging during operating hours. Most buses and trucks can charge with plug-in chargers, just like passenger cars, and sharing charging technology across vehicle segments makes high-power charging technology more available and affordable. Having a plan will help you get the most out of all of your electric fleet vehicles.

3. Design a Smart Charging Plan to Maximize Your ROI

Simply plugging in and charging every vehicle at once usually leads to fleets overbuilding their charging infrastructure and creating peak demands for electricity, often causing significant increases in capital and operating costs that could have been avoided. Instead of overspending to install enough capacity for every vehicle to charge simultaneously, fleets must leverage the information they already have about routes, dwell times, workflow and fleet operations, electric utility rates and other details to design a smart charging plan that will deliver a reliable return on investment and ensure smooth operations without creating capacity that exceeds demand. Additionally, part of that plan should involve networked EV charging for fleets, which will enable charging stations to gather useful new data about your electric fleet’s power needs and manage those needs intelligently going forward.

4. Unlock New Operational Efficiencies with Networked Charging

ChargePoint networked charging solutions include many features, such as Power Management, that are specifically designed to help your fleet electrify without overbuilding capacity and incurring excessive expenses. Power Management enables fleet managers like you to:

  • set dynamic power ceilings to manage aggregate demand,

  • integrate battery storage and building energy management systems,

  • interface with electric utilities and grid operators to benefit from the most advantageous electricity prices, provide grid services and benefit from incentive programs,

  • connect with vehicle telematics and management systems

  • and track, report, analyze and optimize your energy use.

Power Management is fully integrated with a complete suite of fleet features that help deliver an optimized charging plan consistent with your fleet’s operational and energy goals.

5. Scale Charging to Meet Demand

As fleet electrification grows rapidly, fleets need to plan ahead and invest in modular, scalable charging systems like ChargePoint Express Plus. Express Plus is designed to accommodate the next 10 years in battery technology and enables organizations to start small with one station and scale intelligently, sharing power among multiple charging stations to fuel as many high-power vehicles as possible as efficiently as possible. Fleets must make investments based on quantifiable cost savings and benefits, and Express Plus delivers on both, which is why it’s the ideal charging platform to fuel heavy duty buses and trucks.

Interested in learning more about Express Plus?

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