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Our modular package of infrastructure, energy and software can provide support at any stage of your transition, or across the entire process – from design to long-term operation and maintenance.
The move to EVs is now inevitable; and businesses and public sector organisations can reap significant environmental, financial, reputational and operational benefits from embracing this technology sooner rather than later. Centrica is already working with organisations like Ford, Lotus and Vauxhall to build the sustainable energy transportation infrastructure of the future.
In this article Lucy Simpson, Head of Product Management for EVs, outlines some of the important steps that we believe fleet operators should take to develop a future-proofed, scalable and cost-effective EV transition plan.
At Centrica, our own fleet of 11,000 vehicles has already started it's transition to EV with an additional order of 1,000 commercial vans from Vauxhall announced in July 2020. We've been learning a lot along the way on how to best make the switch, the challenges all organisations will face and questions that need answering to make the move as simple, fast and cost-effective as possible.
It may sound obvious, but first priority is to work out what your potential EV fleet will look like and how quickly you want to complete the transition. This can be achieved by understanding your operational and financial setup and how electrification can viably be delivered for your organisation. Questions to ask must include:
A strong feasibility study will help you build out an integrated strategy for switching your fleet to EV, act a set of guiding principles through implementation and provide you with a baseline of information and data to keep you on track. As technology rapidly develops and prices continue to fall, it is wise to monitor your position at regular intervals.
Transitioning your fleet to EV is a serious, long-term commitment; it's not a one-off project. You need to scale resource for continuous management and development, while introducing appropriate tools to monitor and optimise your EV strategy and create a good experience for your drivers.
A driver-centric strategy
It's vital to gain the buy-in of drivers. Working patterns may change due to the need to make more ‘back to base’ trips for recharging and the need to factor in greater wait times for re-powering their vehicles. With electric charging networks still in development and not as extensive as anyone would like, driver routes may need to be altered to enable on-the-road charging. Effective scheduling and logistics planning can ease these challenges, but engage drivers early in the process and demonstrating the benefits of tools such as mobile apps and route planning.
For organisations that make at workplace charging available to staff and customers, success will depend on adequate take-up from individuals. Effective consultation in the planning stages will help you gain employee buy-in, forecast potential demand and feed into the design and development process.
Fortunately it's a relatively easy to 'sell' the benefits of EV charging to both employees and customers. The environmental and cost-saving benefits should be clearly articulated, which will help generate enthusiasm and support staff and customer retention and attraction. What's not to like when a business demonstrates sustainability leadership and supports its employees and customers by subsidising the running costs of their private cars.
When developing your EV strategy, an important step is ensuring you understand the regulatory landscape; and crucially the incentives you can access. Transport is responsible for 27% of the EU's total CO2 emissions and has a profound effect on the air quality of our cities and communities. With commercial vehicles are responsible for 20% of all vehicle related greenhouse gas emissions, despite accounting for only 5% of vehicles on the road, there is a huge opportunity for business to support improvements in air quality and reduce emissions.
As such, decarbonising transportation is a major policy priority for EU, UK and local governments, who are encouraging businesses to adopt EVs via a range of policies, regulations and incentives.
Some key regulations include
Some key financial incentives
With the economies of scale of fleet management, falling technology prices for batteries and charging infrastructure - the cost of moving to EV is reducing. Furthermore there are major opportunities to integrate your EV infrastructure with renewable on-site distributed solutions, such as solar and battery storage, or Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs); which can further reduce energy costs and enhance sustainability across your entire estate.
Total cost of ownership (TCO)
Centrica's international survey of more than 1,500 energy decision makers, which showed that 68% of organisations see electric vehicles as a path to reducing fuel costs associated with fleets. We know a lot about total cost of ownership, with our fleet the 3rd largest at 12,000 vehicles.
After the initial project scoping, your next priority is to ensure that your financial model is robust and economically sustainable and that it aligns with your company’s broader financial goals. Understand the full ongoing costs for the EV infrastructure and energy supply so that you can accurately forecast the total cost of ownership for fleet electrification. Validate the financial viability and explore all the funding options – from full ownership to financed or leased assets. Ensure that you make the most of the funding and tax incentives and consider how to maintain visibility and control over usage in order to keep costs under control. If your plan is to expand onsite generation capacity to integrate with your EV ecosystem, it's important to consider how you will finance your additional energy infrastructure to meet updated power requirements.
When implementing EV for at-work charging, you have the additional challenge of designing and implementing an appropriate financial charging model for employees and/or customers to fund the initial infrastructure investment and ongoing power supply and management costs. This has to be economically attractive and viable for both the business and the service user.
When you are ready to move onto more a more detailed stage in your switch to EV, working joint with an EV enablement provider can help you to develop a plan that addresses all elements of the integrated strategy – from design, though to installation, operation and maintenance.
Together, you will need to address a raft of major challenges and decisions, including:
When choosing technology its important to build in infrastructure-flexibility and the ability to upgrade or move with technology developments, future-proofing your EV setup. It is vitally important to manage the health and safety risks associated with EVs, for example the risks associated with the presence of high voltage components and cabling on site, and the storage of electrical energy.
With your strategy in place, and answers to the questions in steps 1-5 covered, the next stage is to develop a plan of action. If you are working with a partner, they will guide you through the project scoping phase, where it's crucial to ask all the essential questions early to avoid implementation issues or delays further down the line. Key decisions include defining the EV policy; funding arrangements; site identification; power availability; planning permission requirements; space logistics, etc.
Resilient, forward thinking
In addition, when planning for your fleets switch to EV, it's essential to consider measures to ensure the uninterrupted operation of the EV infrastructure as downtime will have a direct impact on business continuity. Building in robust resilience measures using renewable on-site generation is essential to manage risk from power supply disruption.
Future-proofing your EV solution to avoid obsolescence is difficult when technology is evolving so quickly, but this is no reason to delay the transition and the financial and environmental benefits that this can bring. Careful planning is essential to ensure that your EV infrastructure offers the flexibility to adapt as your fleet evolves and technologies or business priorities change.
Our Energy Pathway engagement methodology provides a clear path from an initial idea, through to detailed project specification and importantly ongoing optimisation of your solution; ensuring the longevity of your EV fleet solution.
Developing your strategy, purchasing the right vehicles, building your EV setup and addressing any power constraints you have with on-site energy solutions are only some of of the challenges organisations need to overcome. In addition to this Fleet Managers need a suite of software applications to ensure optimal you require to manage charge points, energy use and deal with the commercial aspects of multi-site charging.
Having the right tools in place to manage electric vehicle charging and site energy management enables any organisation to have complete control performance. While an integrated Driver App provides a seamless experience for all users by helping them find, access, utilise and resolve any issues related to charging stations.
The right package of EV management software can help Fleet Managers achieve the optimal fuel costs, manage charging access and monitor driver efficiency. Ultimately ensuring that total cost of ownership for the fleet remains within the business case and plans.
Driver management and commercial optimisation
Managing chargers and your network
On-and-off-site energy management
Planning and implementing the complex EV infrastructure for fleets requires specialist technical and regulatory expertise. Your transition to electric can comprise multiple vendors across the project's long lifetime, making it exceptionally difficult to navigate. This is further complicated by the fact that new suppliers and solutions are emerging all the time.
Unless you have the right experience and resources available in-house, it's likely that you will require expert support to guide your EV enablement package. This involves integrating the many disparate elements of the project, including software, hardware and energy provision; planning control; regulation, installation; operation and maintenance, etc.
Choose a partner who has long-term experience across the entire value chain, who will help to facilitate a joined-up and a seamless experience to avoid technical and operational inconsistencies. Centrica’s capability across home installations, varying complexities of workplace charging and owning the required energy services means we are the right partner for your fleet’s transition.
One of the key challenges of workplace EV introduction is securing enough sustainable power capacity both now and in the future to meet your extra requirements.
Switching to EV will increase power demand, so if you don't have an adequate power supply to meet your long term needs, you will need to consider upgrades to the grid supply infrastructure, or the implementation of new on-site generation solutions to self-generate your own clean energy supply. This important issue is often overlooked, as demonstrated by our research. This showed that only 43% of businesses have considered the impact of EV on their power requirements
By integrating your EV infrastructure with renewable on-site distributed solutions you can reduce energy costs and enhance sustainability across your entire estate. There's also an opportunity to earn revenue via lucrative Demand Side Response (DSR) and supply optimisation programmes. This is an attractive option for back-to-base fleets, where vehicles may be plugged in for longer periods.
Centrica Business Solutions has launched the most comprehensive single-supplier customer electric vehicle (EV) offer to date. Our solution for Fleets leverages our own transition experience and in-house technology and capabilities to help organisations save time and maximise efficiencies.
With our EV enablement solution your organisation will be able to address the operational implications relating to evolving national infrastructure, range restrictions along preferred routes and accurate reimbursement of driver energy costs; simplifying the transition with an integrated system for vehicles, infrastructure, energy and optimisation.
With a global network of more than 15,000 engineers and technicians, and expertise in designing, managing and financing complex solutions, Centrica has already installed more than 17,000 EV chargers and is uniquely positioned to provide a holistic solution that addresses the challenges of EV adoption.
Find out more about our EV enablement solution below, or get in touch to learn how our experience in managing the EV switch of the UK's 3rd largest fleet makes us the perfect end-to-end solution partner for your organisation.