What Does It Take To Implement V2X in Delivery Trucks and Vans?

(Joseph Gottlieb, CTO, Tuesday March 16, 2021)

We have investigated the value of V2X (“vehicle to everything”) in providing grid resiliency in our blog from two weeks ago. One prospective class of vehicles to consider for V2X usage are delivery trucks and vans – think of all the Amazon, FedEx, or UPS vans that you see every day. These vehicles typically have battery capacities over 100kWh, generally are operated out of large vehicle yards, and a significant percentage of them are back in those vehicle yards during peak load hours. Moreover, many fleets (and vehicle OEMs) are already electrifying these types of vehicles. The obvious question then becomes “what does it take to make an electric delivery vehicle or van capable of V2X operation?” Of course, the answer depend on what flavor of V2X (vehicle to grid, or V2G; vehicle to building, or V2B; or vehicle to infrastructure, or V2I; we will skip vehicle to home, which is essentially the same as V2B) is to be supported.

For all V2X flavors, the electric vehicle (EV) and the charger both need to support bi-directional operation. This represents a slight increase in the vehicle electronics, and roughly a 20% cost increase in the charger electronics. The vehicle and charger software also typically need to be augmented to support the additional data exchanges required between the vehicle and the charger. In some cases, the fleet management software also needs to “participate in the conversation” to ensure that the vehicles have enough power when they go back on-shift. V2G adds the requirement of communicating with the utility grid; this both encompasses the type of power to put on the grid and the pricing of that power. This function is typically done through a V2G aggregation software platform, which likely also communicates with fleet management software. V2B and V2I do not require aggregation software, but do require a “black start” module for the charger (usually a battery) – this energizes the charger circuitry so that it can create a grid.

Rhombus has built high-power DC fast charging systems and smart inverters for renewable energy such as “behind the meter” grid energy storage systems for several years. We have applied that expertise to the design of our latest-generation bi-directional EV charging systems (which are designed from the start for the needs of fleet operators) and bi-directional smart inverter systems for microgrids. Rhombus expertise in energy management system (EMS) software is also embedded in our VectorStat EMS controller and software which is embedded in our EV charging systems and smart inverters. Rhombus also excels in the design and testing of high-power electrical equipment to meet the requirements of UL and other certification organizations. We have built hundreds of V2G-capable high-power, high-reliability chargers and bi-directional smart inverters for a variety of different sizes and classes of EVs. Find out how we can help you by contacting us at news@rhombusenergy.com, or by reading our Vehicle to Grid Solution Brief.