As the world is evolving, so are fleets.
With rising government pressure and a corporate mission to achieve zero emissions in the near future, electric vehicles are becoming the go-to solution for both small and large fleets.
Naturally, EV fleet management is gradually unfolding as a hot topic in the industry, giving rise to new concerns and questions for fleet owners and managers.
In the following sections, we explore what electric vehicle fleet management entails. We’ll focus on all that fleet managers must address to oversee electric fleet management effectively.
What is EV fleet management?
Before we get into the nuts and bolts, it’s essential to define EV fleet management in the first place.
Unlike traditional fleet management, electric fleet management is entirely focused on growing a fleet of electric vehicles. It consists of multiple components, like the strategic deployment of EVs, the establishment of charging infrastructure, efficient energy usage, regular vehicle maintenance, monitoring of EV-specific metrics, and driver education.
The above will help create an effective EV fleet management strategy and ensure a seamless and cost-effective transition to electric transportation.
Let’s delve into the key considerations that EV fleet managers should consider.
Key considerations for EV fleet managers
In a previous article from our blog, we explored fleet electrification in detail. We analyzed the benefits of introducing electric vehicles to your fleet and looked at some core challenges you must be prepared for.
In this article, we’ll concentrate on what fleet managers need to consider when it comes to EV fleet management.
EV charging infrastructure planning
In contrast, electric fleets have another vital problem – vehicle charging.
Strategic planning for creating a charging infrastructure is among the first steps you should take in your journey to electric fleet management.
What does this planning include?
For starters, fleet managers must determine the optimal locations for charging stations based on the fleet’s operational needs. This includes taking into account diverse factors like route planning, vehicle downtime, and charging speed. In addition, analyze vehicle range, charging time, and daily distance traveled.
For example, a delivery company may place fast-charging stations along its routes to minimize downtime. At the same time, a municipal fleet may install slower chargers at depots where vehicles are parked overnight.
Once your charging infrastructure plan is ready, you can move on to the meat and potatoes – the actual creation of EV charging stations.
EV charging infrastructure
When setting up your charging infrastructure, following your strategic plan step-by-step is highly advisable.
Plan for future expansion and anticipate the increase in the number of EVs and changes in technology.
Next, select the appropriate chargers based on your vehicles. You can choose from Level 1, Level 2, or DC fast chargers. Each charger comes with its individual peculiarities.
For instance, Level 1 chargers (120V) are standard and suitable for overnight charging at depots, while Level 2 chargers (240V) offer faster charging and are ideal for mid-day top-ups. DC fast chargers provide rapid charging but may be reserved for specific use cases due to their higher cost.
Regarding location, ensure enough space for your vehicles to maneuver and park. After all, trucks are much larger than a family car, meaning you’ll need to provide more space for convenience.
Don’t forget to assess the existing electrical infrastructure’s capacity to handle additional load from EV chargers. If necessary, plan to upgrade electrical panels, transformers, and wiring to support the increased load.
To avoid legal conflicts, you’ll also need to understand and comply with local building codes, zoning laws, and electrical codes. Secure necessary permits for construction, electrical work, and operation.
Partner with certified and professional electricians for installation to ensure safety and compliance. Next, integrate your charging infrastructure with fleet management software for monitoring and scheduling.
Great, you’re now one step closer to top-notch EV fleet management.
But before you can enjoy peace of mind that your electric fleet is running smoothly, you’ll need to think about energy optimization.
Effective energy optimization involves managing when and how EVs are charged to bring down electricity costs to a minimum. It’s highly recommended for all fleet managers to consider off-peak charging to take advantage of lower electricity rates and avoid demand charges during peak hours.
For example, a smart charging system can be programmed to charge vehicles overnight when electricity demand and rates are lower, resulting in cost savings.
Although EV charging stations are generally considered less expensive than fuel expenses, they can still reach substantial amounts. Energy optimization is a must, especially if you’re operating a large fleet with hundreds of electric vehicles.
Monitoring EV-specific metrics
Just like traditional vehicles have fuel-related metrics you must be aware of, electric vehicles also require close analysis.
To ensure the health and efficiency of electric fleet operations, monitoring EV-specific metrics is crucial. This includes tracking factors such as:
- State of charge (SOC)
- Battery health
- Energy consumption
- Charging station usage
Let’s take a closer look at each one of these metrics.
State of charge (SOC)
State of charge represents the amount of remaining battery power in an electric vehicle, expressed as a percentage.
You can think of it as the fuel gauge in a combustion engine vehicle. This metric helps plan routes, schedule charging, and avoid range anxiety.
By monitoring SOC, you can guarantee that your electric vehicles are properly charged for specific routes, allowing you to optimize charging schedules.
Battery health, on the other hand, refers to the condition and performance capability of an electric vehicle’s battery over time.
The factors affecting this metric include discharge cycle charge, temperature exposure, and charging habits and routines.
Operating vehicles with good battery health is crucial for maximizing the lifespan and performance of your electric assets. Plus, deterioration in battery health can lead to reduced range and efficiency, impacting your fleet’s performance.
Regular diagnosing and analyzing battery health will allow you to achieve predictive maintenance and replacement planning.
Energy consumption is the amount of electrical energy an EV uses, often measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) per mile.
This metric can be influenced by driving behavior, vehicle load, terrain, weather conditions, and HVAC use.
By understanding energy consumption, you can successfully improve cost management, range, and energy usage.
Furthermore, energy consumption data can come in handy when training drivers for more energy-efficient driving habits and planning more efficient routes.
Charging station usage
Last but not least, charging station usage includes monitoring the usage patterns and availability of EV charging stations.
The data points that are important here include frequency of use, duration of charging sessions, peak usage times, and availability status.
Efficient use of charging stations is essential for reducing downtime and making sure that all electric vehicles are adequately charged when needed.
EV preventive maintenance
Preventive maintenance is vital to keep your vehicles in optimal condition, whether electric or fuel-based.
In the case of EV fleet management, this includes regular inspections of the battery, electrical systems, and tires, as well as software updates to enhance performance.
For example, if you notice a drop in a vehicle’s range over time, it might be due to battery degradation. There are plenty of proactive steps you can take to address this challenge.
Create a long-term preventive maintenance plan for your electric vehicles and stay on top of all routine tasks with fleet maintenance software with PM Intervals.
Lastly, remember that driver education is key for effective EV fleet management. Drivers should be educated on operating electric vehicles efficiently, including strategies like regenerative braking and minimizing heavy acceleration.
For instance, teaching drivers to plan routes aligned with available charging infrastructure can help avoid range anxiety and downtime.
Overall, electric fleet management requires a holistic approach. To enjoy peak performance, it’s critical to acknowledge various factors, including creating a sufficient charging infrastructure, optimizing energy, tracking EV-specific metrics, and more.
By addressing the key considerations outlined above, fleet managers can maximize the benefits of electric vehicles, reduce operating costs, and contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future of transportation.
Don’t forget that Fleetpal can support you to achieve all this and more. If you’re still not sure about how the solution works, schedule your free online demo today, and we’ll show you.