Tuesday, July 9, 2024

The Role of Home Charging in EV Fleet Management

Electric vehicles offer a wide range of economic and environmental benefits for today’s fleets but also come with a unique set of challenges. Fleet managers who have traditionally optimized the use of gas vehicles must now expand their expertise into charging solutions. Adding on-site depot charging requires planning, capital and time. Charging on the go is unreliable and time consuming. In this context, being able to “refuel” fleet vehicles at employees’ homes is a novel option that can solve many problems at once. The benefits of leveraging a home-first approach to charging include:

  1. Electricity cost savings
    A crucial benefit of a charging-at-home program is the potential for companies to save significantly on charging costs. Overnight residential charging is relatively inexpensive, since electricity rates are typically lower from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. because of decreased demand. By encouraging employees to charge their EVs and PHEVs during off-peak times, businesses can take advantage of these reduced rates. In areas like Baltimore where the off-peak rate is just $.09 per kWh, drivers who charge their vehicles at home can reduce a company’s electric fuel spend by 60 percent.

    Even lightweight fleet vehicles that require daytime charging to go longer distances can save money with overnight charging. A car that begins the day with a full tank reduces the need to spend at public charging stations later on.

  2. Infrastructure cost savings
    There’s no quick statistic for the total amount corporations have spent on EV charging stations for their employees and fleet drivers to date, but consider the investment in both public and private EV charging solutions provided in the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: $7.5 billion in total, of which $5 billion will go toward building a “backbone” of high-speed chargers along major roads, freeways, and interstates.

    Some grants and tax credits are being extended to private investments in EV charging infrastructure as well, but there’s a logical reason why the federal investments closer to where people live are smaller. The equipment needed to charge a car at home can be free. Charging an EV at home is as simple as plugging in the cable that came with your car into a standard outlet, and leaving it plugged in overnight. For commuters who drive less than 70 miles a day, no level 2 (“fast”) charger is needed.

  3. Employee time savings
    Anyone forced to rely on public charging stations risks being inefficient with their time. Once an EV plugs in, public charging can take close to an hour — even when using a DC fast charger. A DC fast charger adds 50 to 170 miles of range in 30 minutes, depending on the power output of the station and vehicle capacity. That’s quite a bit more powerful than the average trickle charge associated with a standard home outlet, but the overnight charge takes no time out of the driver’s workday.

    Drivers might be delayed while searching for available working chargers because they are often unreliable. Qmerit recently culled data from thousands of public chargers and documented a range of issues: station connectivity, internal station faults/errors, and problems with the connector/cable, credit card reader, and display screen.

  4. Employee satisfaction
    An EV fleet can be a powerful tool for attracting and retaining top talent, particularly among individuals who have embraced a climate-conscious lifestyle. Prospective employees, especially from younger generations, are increasingly drawn to companies that offer EV-friendly policies. Almost two-thirds of millennials will not work at all for companies they do not consider to be socially responsible.

    When choosing between two potential employers with EV fleets, the one with the most driver-friendly program has an advantage. An at-home charging program offers the aforementioned advantages, and just needs to be paired with a home charging reimbursement program to incentivize the behavior and accurately cover employees’ out-of-pocket charging costs.

Conclusion

Adopting a home-first approach to fleet vehicle charging allows companies to put off larger infrastructure development decisions and immediately reap the cost savings and employee satisfaction benefits of this new technology.  In this way, a home-first strategy is not just a solution for the present, but a wise maneuver that positions companies for sustainable success in the future of electric vehicle fleet management.

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