Lexperts episode 3

Getting your fleet operations ready for electric​​​​​​​

When it comes to electrification, making eLCVs work for your individual fleet operations is vital.

That’s why Episode 3 of in the LEXperts series takes a deep dive into the nitty gritty of what it means to run an electric fleet with a particular focus on the logistics of charging and making this new automotive technology really work for your drivers.

These are factors that are all-too familiar to leading LEXpert Chris Chandler, LEX Principal Consultant and EV Sustainability Specialist.

“Charging infrastructure is one of those things that can be really critical in operating your electric vehicle (EV) fleet,” Chris says, “because you've got three fundamental places to charge. You can charge at the workplace or depot, you can charge at your drivers' homes, and you can charge on the public network. So, one of the biggest operational tasks is to consider all three options and match them up with the various vehicles in your electric fleet.”

The Cost of Charging

Cost is obviously a key consideration as you go through that exercise and, as Chris explains, the differences between the various options can be significant.

“If I consider my own situation, I have a special EV tariff, so I charge my vehicle at night at home and the cost is just seven and a half pence per kilowatt. Now, at the other end of the scale, some of the public chargers that are also rapid chargers can be up to a pound a kilowatt. So, there's a big variation in cost.”

Other LEXperts, including Melanie Holmes, Customer Relationship Manager, point out that the costs, and other operational considerations of installing charging equipment in the home or at the workplace, are also part of the package:

“You’ve got to remember that the electricity itself is only part of the costs that need to be included in your transition plan. It’s so often neglected, but the investment in charging infrastructure needs thinking about too. Home charging is probably the simplest to think about and you’re looking at something in the region of £1,000 to get your charging point in place."

"When it comes to charging points in the workplace, the big pitfall to avoid is short-term thinking. It’s not about what you’ll need today: it’s about taking account of how your EV fleet might evolve and what you might need for the future. Do that and you’ll reduce costs further down the line.”

Public Charging Challenges

It can be inevitable that, despite having charging infrastructure at home or a depot, your drivers will sometimes need to utilize the public charging network.

That will present its own set of challenges, outlined by Andy Hill ─ LCV Specialist Commercial Vehicle Manager: “At the risk of stating the obvious, there's a big difference between cars and vans! That has particular implications when it comes to charging EVs on the public network because the vast majority of that network is built with cars in mind. For smaller vans, that’s probably not going to cause an issue because they will fit into car-sized spaces."

"The challenge comes with your larger vehicle configured with high roofs or long wheelbases because they will encounter height restricted areas and small charging bays. So, you need to do your research and identify the charging points most likely to suit your needs on the public side.”

Fortunately, information on the public charging network is becoming more widely available, making that research task easier. You can also find useful advice on home and workplace charging in this guide from E.ON ─ a company going on its own EV journey with help from Lex Autolease.

Lex Autolease is ready to help you with this detailed planning too. This includes designing and installing your charging infrastructure in collaboration with best-in-class partners where required and, crucially, using technology such as telematics solutions, monitoring where your current ICE fleet vehicles are being driven and identifying EVs that have the right range for those drive cycles.

Chris Chandler explains how this can give fleet managers and decision makers real peace of mind:

“It really helps with the strategy, and it helps de-risking, because you're not working off what you think the vehicles are doing. You're actually working off solid evidence and mileage and data of where the vehicles are, what they're doing. So, it does add a sort of a layer of risk-proofing for customers.”

The Human Factor

As important as infrastructure and technology may be for the successful transition to electric, there is another factor that’s probably even more important.

The people who are going to use them.

Not everyone embraces change. The smooth transition to EVs depends on getting buy-in.

As Andy explains, you need to take your people with you: “We really need to sell the EV philosophy to drivers. Bring them into the decision-making policy to make sure the vehicles fit their needs, share the good news that EVs are simple to operate, smooth, comfortable, quiet and generally a joy to drive. It’s no coincidence that some of the smoothest fleet transitions we’re involved with at the moment include Driver Information Packs that put everybody in the picture ─ a really simple, really good idea!”

Finally, Do This First…

On the topic of keeping things simple, Chris offers a final piece of advice on one thing you can do right now to address the operational side of fleet transition:

“Find out where the vehicles are kept overnight. That will inform your thinking about charging solutions ─ and, if it’s not been thought about, it’s charging that so often catches people out when they start operating an electric fleet."

"Simply knowing where your vehicles are kept overnight tells you to what extent you’re looking at home charging solutions, how important depot-based charging will be, and how much public charging you’re likely to need. You’re identifying important unknowns straight away, giving you the opportunity to build them into your strategic plan from the beginning. And yes, of course, we can help you with that planning process too…”

Learn more about Commercial Vehicle Solutions from Lex Autolease here.

Information correct at the time of filming, April 2023.

Opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect that of Lex Autolease.