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Fleet Electrification Stakeholders - Two Part Series

Part Two - External Partners

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By Molly Middaugh - Director, Business Development
Nov 4, 2021

Once you have the internal team bought in and excited to make the switch to cleaner (and faster!) vehicles, you need to pick the right external partners to give your team expertise, experienced knowledge, and cohesive perspective. The three key players you’ll want on your roster are: your selected vehicle OEM or OEMs, charging solutions provider, and local utility. These players should be integrated into your core team as early as possible and engaged throughout the process.

Electric fleet vehicle arriving at an EVgo fast charging depot

Vehicle OEM

The vehicle OEM market is filled with long-tenured companies and start-ups. With the medium- and heavy-duty market expected to offer more than 200 models by 2023, you will want to research interoperability and learn about their pilot programs and future-proofing efforts.

Equipment Interoperability: Vehicle and charging software need to communicate effectively. Without this, you will have incompatible products that don’t work together. Interoperability is one of the first and essential conversations you should have with your OEM. EVgo has a lab to test interoperability with many OEMs. Your OEM should know if their vehicles with work with a variety of equipment, and that confidence only comes through thorough testing with trusted charging partners.

Pilot Programs: A vehicle’s electric range depends on multiple variables such as: the size of the battery, the average speed of the vehicle, and the route (uphill, downhill, freeway, in-town driving, etc.). A vehicle might perform differently on one course versus another. To test if a vehicle is right for your fleet, OEMs participate in Pilot Programs to test vehicle performance on fixed routes with known daily mileage matching vehicle availability. Before purchasing a specific model, talk to your OEM about the Pilot Programs the vehicle has participated in and see if they match your fleet’s needs.

Future-Proofing: Some vehicles are only compatible with specific chargers. When assessing your vehicle needs, consider its charging requirements before buying. A vehicle compatible with direct current fast charging (DCFC) may not be compatible with Level 2 (alternating current or AC) charging and vice versa. If you plan to expand your charging portfolio or take advantage of public infrastructure, your vehicle will need to be compatible with your charging solutions. Before selecting an OEM, ask about their future-proofing efforts and their spec sheets.

Fleet customer reading software analytics on a tablet while charging her fleet vehicle at an EVgo fast charger
Charging Solutions Provider

Charging providers offer different services. Some focus on selling and installing hardware. Some only want to sell software. Others, like EVgo, provide you with a complete turnkey solution, from equipment provisioning through site construction and networking and ongoing management. Fleets electrifying for the first time can benefit from working with a full-service charging provider to avoid mistakes (and costs!). EVgo's reliability offers more schedule and budget certainty than other charging providers.

Before selecting a charging provider, make sure they excel at the following:

Initial Consultation: Your charging provider should help you analyze your fleet's operation and financial needs. They should help you create a data-driven fleet transition plan, identifying which vehicles, routes, and geographies to electrify first and how to best leverage funding opportunities.

Site Selection & Design: You may have multiple sites, or at the least, multiple locations on your site that you may be considering for charging equipment. Your charging solutions provider can help you decide the best locations for electrification to optimize cost based on layouts, required power upgrades, permitting considerations, and more. Your electric vehicle service provider (EVSP) should work with you to design each site to optimize the space for your needs.

Equipment Procurement: Each vehicle and route may have different charging needs. Your charging provider should provide a range of electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) options and help you choose the best hardware and power levels for your needs. Also, charging providers who are hardware-agnostic keep your fleet on pace with future technologies.

Site Construction: Ask your charger vendor to perform a site assessment and help you create an installation plan with a schedule and a budget. While equipment costs are clearly defined, installation costs can vary. EVgo has more than a decade of experience installing charging infrastructure, with expertise on DCFC — which has more complex engineering and construction needs compared to L2. We provide fleet customers with accurate project delivery schedules —including schedules and costs for upgrading power and obtaining permits.

Reliability: Site design and installation should be the first chapter in a long relationship with your charging provider. After installation, your charging provider should continue to support you by ensuring that your charging equipment performs flawlessly; this requires ongoing remote monitoring and troubleshooting, routine preventative maintenance, and prompt corrective maintenance. Both reliable software and a smart operations and maintenance plan are key to making sure that the expensive charging equipment performs to the standard your fleet needs.

Innovative Software Solutions: It's essential to embrace technology. Your charging provider should provide smart charging software that can help charge your vehicles safely and reliably at the lowest cost, keeping in mind the duty cycles of the entire fleet and grid impacts. Smart charging solutions can integrate seamlessly with your existing fleet management systems and can be used for different ownership models, such as Charging as a Service; along with a mix charging stations – both depot and away from base.

evgo cleo fast charger
evgo cleo fast charger

Effective utility engagement is a multifaceted experience that includes: EV-centric rate design, utility fleet programs, and the complex process of getting power on-site and interconnecting the electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE). It can take anywhere from 6-18+ months to electrify a site, depending on the utility and local permitting authorities. That’s why it’s important to communicate with your utility early and often—and find partners who know how to navigate their processes.

Rate design: Most utility rates were designed with buildings in mind, not chargers (which can require more than 1MW of power quickly!). You may need to work with an experienced charging partner to understand the impacts your electrification solution will have on your electricity costs—and what you can do to mitigate them.

Utility Fleet Programs: Utilities across the country are introducing programs to support fleet electrification. The most common programs include fleet advisory services, which guide fleets to the total cost of ownership analysis and transition planning. Fleet infrastructure rebates and make-ready programs can also reduce the cost for fleet customers.

Interconnection: This can be the lengthiest portion of site electrification and is usually where mistakes and unnecessary costs can pile up. Interconnection includes: feasibility studies, utility design approvals, utility easements, and the equipment required for power upgrades. Several utilities have published a straightforward EV infrastructure process with timelines, key teams, and contact points for each process stage. This part runs most smoothly when dedicated design and experienced construction teams collaborate to break down silos and eliminate duplicative work.

EVgo's in-house department dedicated to utility interconnection has worked with over 74 utilities and shares best practices to help streamline utility development and timelines. EVgo has a dedicated policy team advocating for utility rates to reduce costs for electric vehicle charging (e.g., demand charge holidays, volumetric rates, etc.). This in-house utility and regulatory expertise is one reason why EVgo has successfully deployed the nation's largest public electric vehicle fast-charging network.

Once you your internal team is place, EVgo can help arm you with the tools you’ll need to electrify your fleet — and support you long after. We share the same goal as you—to help your fleet go electric quickly, cost-effectively, and reliably, and with more than a decade of expertise, we are here for you!