A ChargePoint Infrastructure guide for the EV’s in your Fleet
Requirements for ChargePoints at the office, depot and at home
By Alex Baker, CEO CleanCar.io
I have heard ChargePoint manufacturers say that every person who uses an EV needs 2.3 ChargePoints. One at Home, one in the office and some public charging in between…but of course, they would say that they are trying to sell ChargePoints after all!
On this basis then I use about 1.2 ChargePoints for my Nissan Leaf as I mostly charge at home with the occasional public charge.
I know some businesses that use 0.5 chargers per vehicle, i.e. they have a bank of chargers at the office or depot, where vehicles charge when they need to operate two vehicles per charge point.
Each instance is different, and your requirements will be unique. However I think in the short term it’s better to be conservative and robust in your requirements.
- Be Conservative: By this I mean don’t push the boundaries too far and look for the easy wins. I would recommend switching drivers to EV who at most require the vehicle to be charged at home or office no more than each night (or day if night shifts). I would not recommend looking for the drivers who need to charge 2 or three times per day to make an EV work. The technology is improving and very soon those drivers will fall into the once a day charging profile. So focus on the easy wins and keep an eye on the changing technologies and reassess every few months.
- Be Robust: Through our analysis, we often help fleets to understand how many ChargePoints they will require for the EV’s they intend to buy or lease. If for example, our analysis shows they require a minimum of 24 x 7kw for their 50 Electric vans, we would always recommend they go a little higher and plump for say 27 chargers. The cost impact is minimal to the overall cost benefits and it improves the user experience and caters for the occasional high use periods.
NOTE: Just because we recommend 27 ChargePoints it does not mean it is always possible. The ChargePoint installers will need to check the site first and check it has the grid capacity to operate this number of ChargePoints or outline the works required to bring it up to this capacity and capability.
Public Charging Networks
Improvements in public charging network, however still cannot be relied upon. Often when we speak to fleets, we get questioned about utilising the public charging network as the sole and only way of charging. If this is something you are considering, I would strongly urge you to think again.
As an EV driver, I love the public charging networks and I have some favourites I like to use when I park in the city, and the fast chargers on the Motorway services have been a godsend over the years.
Here are a few things to consider though:
- Many of the older chargers are simply a waste of time unless you are parking overnight. They are often 3.7kw chargers which means snailpace slow with them being merely a slight upgrade compared to a three-pin plug. You could park you Nissan leaf at Tesco, plug in your car and come back to a whole ‘two miles’ of extra range.
- Broken, Vandalised, Behind Locked Gates…not there! These are all things I have experienced before, and sometimes it can take a very long time to get them fixed and working again. If you are dependent upon a specific location based ChargePoint and it’s suddenly not useable then it could have a serious impact on your charging capabilities.
- ICED. This regular and often frustrating occurrence is where someone with an Internal Combustion Engine vehicle is parked in the spot reserved for electric vehicles.
- Charge Rage! I have seen it happen, where a charge point is ICED or where a plug-in hybrid is charging, and a Pure EV needs to charge. A simple of the cuff remark can soon escalate into an unpleasant situation.
- Charge Point Blocking: I have especially seen this on the CHAdeMO (Super-Fast Chargers) where a PHEV is charging slowly (some cant take advantage of the fast charging), and a pure EV needs to get some power. Can lead to charge rage.
- Expensive: Many of the Public Charge schemes that were originally government funded (like Ecotricity’s electric highway) used to be free to charge for EV owners. However, as EV usage has increased in popularity, there are very few free to charge locations left and these are quickly diminishing plus some of them are unreasonably expensive. You need to factor this into your decision-making process.
- Decentralised Networks. To use all the known networks in the UK would require a heap of RFID, cards, swipe cards and mobile apps. There is no one single network, and EV users who rely on public charging will need to gain some knowledge about what’s out there. And it’s changing quickly.
- Poorly located ChargePoints. On more than one occasion have tried to use a charge point that is located in an underground car park in London where the company that provides it has moved from an RFID card to an APP. The problem is the app won’t work underground without a mobile signal, so you are up and down two flights of stairs while you put all the required info into the app and gain a signal. It keeps you fit at least! Frankly, I just don’t sometimes bother as its just too much hassle!
In a nutshell, only rely on public charging networks if you really must, otherwise charge at home or work. Think of the public charging network like that friend you have, who, when you see them are the life and soul of the party but also has a habit of letting you down at the last minute. A bit like that friend, the network is gradually getting older, more refined and over time will start to settle down, become much more reliable, but may be not quite as much fun!
Note on home charging:
It’s important to check that your employee has a home suited to a charge point. Otherwise there may not be the option to install one. Things to consider:
- Does the employee own their home?
- Do they have approval from a landlord to fit a charger?
- Is their home in a suitable location, i.e. is it a 3-story flat or a terraced house?
- Are they in temporary accommodation or about to move to a new house?
- Are there any restrictions such as being listed or in a conservation area?
- Is there off street parking and suitable location for a charge point install?
- Is there any other reason why a home charger is not an option?
- Also, if they stop being your employee, or move house you should be clear in what happens to the charge point. If you are insisting on recovering your kit then this could cause problems with a house move and surveyor reports etc.
The issues with range vs. range anxiety.
It’s a funny thing when you first drive an EV, as there is no doubt that you, like most people, will get range anxiety. You will see 20 miles of range left, which, if in a petrol or diesel car, would bring you out in a cold scary sweat. But, you just kind of get used to it and to be honest these days I only start to worry if I hit 7 miles or less.
Let’s not underestimate the impact though, as diesel car today will do 500 miles on a full tank yet an EV will do maybe around 100 and this difference takes some getting used to. That’s why we use the CleanCar process with our customers (more below), so we can understand how someone really uses a vehicle and what their journey profile actually means when it comes to range requirements. We can then explain and display this accurate usage profile to them in a simple to understand way and prove that an EV works for their specific usage requirements. Range Anxiety in many respects is like learning to drive. You start out, and you must think about everything such as changing gear, using the pedals, the indicators etc., but before long its normal and you don’t even think about it. Range anxiety is something you can’t avoid, you just have to get on with it but it soon disappears, especially with planning, knowledge and experience.
In the future, range anxiety will be a forgotten phrase, a bit like the noise of a phone modem connecting; you had to be there for the very short time when it mattered. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsNaR6FRuO0
Gain Maximum Range…even more cost saving!
And finally here are some very useful tips to ensure you gain maximum range from the EV/PHEV’s in your Fleet…
- Encourage your EV driver’s into the habit of pre-planning their vehicle charging needs and ensure, whenever possible, they reach the 80% optimal battery charge level. Apart from gaining optimum range, the long term effect will also maintain and extend the battery ‘life’ and when recorded regularly, is reliable ‘good condition’ documentation that supports asset resale or lease returns
- When planning a longer than normal trip do remind them to make sure they are aware of more than one or two of the public network charge point locations en route as they cannot always be relied upon to either be working or available! – There’s an App for that so search for Zap-Map, ChargePoint or PlugShare
- In cold weather, recommend them having the heater on during the last 20- minutes or so of charging so that minimal heat settings will suffice during the journey – Seat warmers do the trick nicely! – If its hot weather then the same applies to the air conditioning
- Also, when out and about encourage drivers to park in the shade/sheltered bays – as above
- Encourage your EV drivers to develop a smooth breaking and acceleration driving style! This improves battery performance and range efficiencies as well as safety!
- Educate them to try to avoid high speeds, especially over 50 mph given that EV’s are almost the opposite to petrol & diesel as slow stop/start style city driving suits electric vehicles
- As ever, longer trips in an electric or hybrid vehicle should always be planned so remind them that high cruising speeds on motorways for long periods will reduce the stated range capability
- Encourage them to use their vehicles ‘ECO settings’ to aid battery performance and conditioning
- Advise them to leave the kitchen sink at home! More unnecessary weight equals less range
- Ask them to test and compare their regular route options as some so called ‘faster’ routes could be less range efficient (higher speed – flat motorway) and lack regenerative breaking benefits (hills and dales!)
Note on use of language
Experts in the EV sector may pick up on my use of terminology in this guide; I make no excuses for sometimes not using the correct terminology. The Electric Vehicle space is confusing enough without the use of dozens of acronyms that only an ‘EV industry stalwart’ understands. But I have designed this guide for those individuals who have direct and indirect responsibility for making decisions about Fleet vehicle procurement and logistical management. So this guide is designed with those roles in mind and a belief that the information, guidance and advice should be presented in a straightforward and helpful format. Hence I have tried to avoid the jargon but you can find links at the bottom of this guide to some very useful glossaries for clarity around industry buzz words.
Looking to the future check out this video by Tony Seba one of my personal favourites. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b3ttqYDwF0
Glossary of Terms – We love our acronyms and personally, I like this one https://pod-point.com/landing-pages/electric-car-glossary