Top EV Charging Station Features For Your EV FleetMar 20, 2023 | 7 MIN READ
“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” Doc Brown may have been wrong about the roads, but he was right about our need to tap into the electric grid to power our vehicles. The future is electric and that includes the future of commercial, municipal, and industrial fleets. Until now, fleet managers and business owners may have been reluctant to go fully electric because of limitations in EV charging infrastructure. With the push for wider adoption, the EV charging industry has had to rise to meet the challenge. What do those changes look like? What should fleet owners and managers be looking for in EV charging stations to ensure their fleets are able to meet the demands of their business and their customers? How can owners and hosts manage not just their fleets, but the power demands to keep them moving? Let’s take a look.
- What is an EV Fleet?
- What is EV Fleet Management?
- Common Features of EV Charging Stations
- Why EV Fleets Have Different Charging needs
- Top EV Charging Station Features for Your EV Fleet
What is an EV Fleet?
Any business or organization that requires delivery or transportation to provide goods or services typically maintains a fleet of vehicles. In the US alone, there are nearly 9 million fleet vehicles. While traditional fleets use any number of vehicles, an EV fleet is made up of electric vehicles. In 2022, North America, nearly 4 million of those fleet vehicles were electric. By 2050? 31% of all fleets are expected to be electric.
While the progress has been great thus far, including FedEx, Amazon, and UPS, experts anticipate more and more companies prioritizing fleet electrification. Currently one of the biggest obstacles to that conversion and evolution is the challenges it can present for fleet management and logistics.
What is EV Fleet Management?
As with standard fleet management, EV fleet management includes all tasks associated with the fleet, from acquisition and utilization to maintenance and repair. Part of that management includes logistics such as route planning to help improve efficiency and maximize vehicle utilization. Even with standard vehicles, fleet management can be complex. It requires quick thinking and problem solving as well as the ability to strategize to keep costs low.
For EV fleet management, those standard complexities are amplified by the need to manage vehicle charging. From overseeing EV charging stations at distribution centers and depots to managing routes and identifying potential charging points along the way, EV fleet management requires robust EV charging infrastructure from the changing stations themselves to the networks and applications that provide charging support for both stations and vehicles.
As one can imagine, infrastructure support for standard vehicles is already built into the fabric of our road systems so EV fleet management adds a completely new element that may present additional challenges. However, selecting the right EV charging station for your electric fleet can simplify logistics and lighten the load.
Why EV Fleets Have Different Charging Needs
As one can imagine, when deadlines, deliveries, and critical services are on the line, fleet managers need to be able to rely on their vehicles. When it comes to electric fleets, that means needing reliable EV charging infrastructure so the fleet can meet demands while also being mindful of charging station capacity and power loads.
While DC fast charging stations may seem like the best solution, constantly needing to fast charge multiple fleet vehicles can not only put stress on the electric grid, but it can also degrade battery performance resulting in extra costs in the long run. Further, it’s unlikely that fleet managers will need
Common Features of EV Charging Stations
Not all EV charging stations are the same, but all EV charging stations have the same fundamental parts: enclosure, power source, power conversion system, cabling, ports, and a charging network.
Enclosure- The case or enclosure is required to organize the interface and protect sensitive elements inside like the power conversion system, battery, and cabling.
Power source- EV charging stations pull AC power from the electric grid and deliver it to the vehicle via the charging cord. The vehicle then converts that power from AC to DC.
Power control system- This system is required to help control the power delivery and manage internal temperatures.
Cabling- From connecting to the power grid to connecting to the charging network, much like a data center, the cabling used in an EV charging station is vital.
Ports- Most EV charging stations have one EVSE port, however other designs feature multiple ports to charge vehicles.
Charging Network/Platform- The charging platform and network are what allows owners to manage the EV charging station and control multiple aspects of the station itself, depending on the owner/host.
While those are the standard features, what really differentiates one solution from another is what they do with those. And that’s where station owners or hosts, fleet managers, and others can really improve efficiency and seamlessly integrate electric vehicles into fleet management with the EV charging solutions designed for fleet electrification or electric fleet management.
Top EV Charging Station Features for Your EV Fleet
So we know what’s standard, what you get out of the box with nearly every EV charging business in the industry. Much like you, the NovaCHARGE team has a keen understanding of that as well. It’s why our team sets out to design EV charging infrastructure with users in mind, incorporating the features and characteristics the industry needs and EV charging stations owners, hosts, and drivers want.
Let’s start with the hardware. First and foremost, you want to make sure that what you’re getting is commercial grade. Public EV charging stations get a good amount of use, but your fleet stations are going to see some heavy usage. The last thing you want is to lose time and resources, and potentially business, because the actual components, like connectors and charging cords are suffering from wear and tear sooner than you anticipate.
And, speaking of that wear and tear, you want a strong warranty. Not only does the warranty protect your product should something happen, but it’s also a testament to your EV charging infrastructure partner’s confidence in their product. Similarly, you want to know that the equipment was constructed to honor that warranty and that means making sure the enclosure can withstand natural elements that run the gamut and won’t degrade under those conditions. Afterall, you don’t stop because it’s hot, or cold, nor should your equipment.
Finally, you want the charging station to be flexible to meet your needs. That means you want some flexibility with multiple ports, both Level 2 and DC fast chargers, long charging cords that can help you accommodate your vehicles so you can maximize the charger’s use.
Network and Software
Physically, a lot of EV charging stations look similar, and they are, but charging stations are more than the sum of the physical parts. In fact, the network and software are, perhaps, the most important part.
When we hear about owner, host, and driver frustration with the lack of station reliability, it’s an issue that can be, largely, resolved with the right network and software support. How so?
Pretty simply, it comes down to visibility, transparency, and reliability. ChargeUP, the charging platform management system from NovaCHARGE not only provides you with an unparalleled ability to drill down to a granular level when it comes to managing each EV charging station and its usage, but you also have full visibility on drivers and vehicles so you can better manage your EV fleet and resources. Hardware and software integration, which helps fleet operators optimize energy and vehicle use by setting driving schedules and routes, charging intervals, and vehicle maintenance in alignment with customer demand, power prices, traffic conditions, and charging-station availability.
Further, the ChargeUP network offers 99.999% guaranteed uptime, meaning you have that visibility and transparency when you need it and can address charging station management from anywhere at any time. In fact, our NovaBOT AI-driven assistant will also check the status of your charging stations in real time, providing Level 1 support and troubleshooting for issues, escalating when necessary. And, with customizable alerts and reports, you can keep track of ongoing issues that may impact your EV fleet management and efficiency.
And finally, one challenge EV Fleet management requires is the ability to remain agile when it comes to balancing the demand and response of power needs for the fleet and grid capacity. That’s why smart power management enabled with ChargeUP is vitally important. ChargeUp increases your ability to fine-tune power consumption during “peak” periods, minimizing the impact of demand charges and translating into lower TCO and significant cost savings.
As an added benefit, ChargeUP allows you to consider selling power stored in EV batteries back to the grid during periods of peak demand, which is a form of “vehicle to grid” (V2G) service, decreasing the maximum loads on the grid and allowing EV fleet owners to capitalize on high electricity prices. Similarly, charging stations can be configured to refill EV batteries with grid power when prices dip. Doing this helps fleet owners avoid demand charges (additional fees, levied according to the maximum rate at which power is drawn), which can make up about 90 percent of a charging station’s electric bill.
Over 2 decades ago, with the arrival of electric vehicles on the market, we believed the future was here. As with the recent federal investment in infrastructure, it would take the right investment in EV infrastructure to make strategies like fleet electrification a reality. The NovaCHARGE team has taken decades of experience in the electric vehicle and strong relationships with utility energy companies to help create the future, and it is here now.
If you’re ready to bring the future to your fleet or experience electric vehicle charging as it should be, get in touch with the NovaCHARGE team today. When it comes to the future, we will need roads, but we’ll also need reliable EV charging stations. Join us, the rEVolution, and be part of the solution.