What Happens When Your fleet EV Chargers on Not Ready for Your fleet EVs

(Rick Sander, CEO, Tuesday August 20, 2019)

For vehicles like local delivery trucks, and a variety of industrial vehicles, vehicle electrification represents a way to dramatically save on energy costs, reduce maintenance costs, and minimize the impact that these vehicles have on the planet. These classes of vehicles are also great candidates for electrification because their usage pattern and range requirements typically allows them to go through a complete shift on a single charge. That is why fleet EVs represent the latest, and in many ways the most exciting, vehicle market that is being electrified.

One of the critical pieces of infrastructure for any EVs is the charging infrastructure. For personal automobiles, the charging infrastructure consists primarily of residential chargers, augmented by commercial-grade chargers at workplaces and retail sites. The use case for these chargers, which typically provide under 10kW of power, is that they are connected to a single vehicle for roughly 8 hours at a time, resulting in a range of 200-300 miles. While the range of fleet EVs is often similar to personal automobiles, the use case for fleet EV chargers is significantly different.

Power requirements for fleet EV charging systems typically start at 60kW and go up from there. The duty cycle for fleet EV charging systems also differs from residential chargers, since the duty cycle of heavy EV charging systems approaches 100% (i.e., they are charging vehicles on a continuous basis at full duty rating). But the most important difference is what happens when a charger fails. For residential chargers, the worst case is that one person’s car cannot be used, and you will have to go to Home Depot (or somewhere similar) and buy another charger for $500 or so. For fleet EVs, a charging system failure can put a delivery vehicle, or industrial vehicle out of order, potentially impacting thousands of dollars. Moreover, replacing a failed system may take days or weeks (you certainly can’t just go to Home Depot). Our next blog will what it takes to build highly available, high-efficiency fleet EV charging systems so that reliability issues can be avoided.