Successful Electric Fleet Adaptation Hinges on Charging Infrastructure

EV charging

(Credit: Pixabay)

by | Feb 8, 2022

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EV charging

(Credit: Pixabay)

Businesses are increasingly implementing electric fleets as part of corporate sustainability initiatives; powering vehicles with clean energy is becoming more cost effective, but success in such transitions relies on proper infrastructure, according to a new report. And industry implementation may outpace the creation of such charging infrastructure.

The report by EY analyzed the need for electric vehicle infrastructure in Europe as commitment to the fleets is growing. Overall, 120 companies worldwide have signed up for the Climate Group’s EV100 initiative to electrify their fleets by 2030, with 66 of those in Europe, growing by 15 since 2020.

With batteries beginning to compare in cost to traditional fuels such as diesel, and with government incentives increasing, the choice to transition to electric fleets is an easier one for many companies. Still, according to a survey by the Climate Group, 67% of businesses cited the lack of charging infrastructure as the biggest barrier to making the change.

According to the EY report, lack of infrastructure concerns are heightened by the length of time it takes to recharge compared with refueling, and by poor user experience.

Most corporate electric fleet transitions are occurring in company cars, but vans and trucks are also seeing more widespread use. The heavy-duty commercial vehicle market alone is expected to hit $370 billion by 2030, according to Guidehouse Insights.

There is risk, though, EY says, that implementation will outpace reliable charging infrastructure.

EY says there will be more than 130 million EVs on the road in Europe by 2035, up from 5 million currently. Overall, estimates for EV implementation has grown across the board with BloombergNEF predicting there will be 677 million of the vehicles on the road by 2040.

That comes as automakers, businesses and government officials pledged at COP26 to move to zero emissions vehicles. There were 33 countries, 11 automakers and 27 fleet operators that signed the pact.

While that increase in demand won’t shut down power and charging infrastructure, it could slow it tremendously and impact the success of making fleet transitions. To meet the demand, there will need to be 65 million charging points, 9 million of those public, which is an increase from just 374,000 today, according to EY.

Last year, the European Union pledged a 100% emissions cut from cars by 2035 and an increase in charging stations to 16.3 million by 2050. It estimates $95 billion to $142 billion will need to be invested in chargers by 2040.

Electricity demand from charging stations will also grow by 30% per year, according to EY.

To meet demand while creating an appropriate charging infrastructure, EY says there needs to be widespread collaboration between municipalities, city planners, charging operators, e-mobility service providers, automakers and distribution system operators. Additional regulations and attractive incentives will also help improve technologies.

A vast majority of chargers is expected to be residential, but workplace (6%), public (4%) and destination (5%) chargers will play a role in improving infrastructure. EY also says fast charging, which has been listed as a concern for making fleet transitions, will make up 2% of the charging infrastructure but will require a quarter of the overall investment.

Unmanaged charging can also impact peak power use, grid utilization, and slow efficiency. The report says that highways that are used for high-power charging will see peak use rise by 87%.

Outside of residential use, the report says workplace and fleet hubs will result in the greatest impacts of unmanaged charging, in which peak load use could increase to as much as 90%. Managed charging could lower peak load use by 20% for workplaces and 11% for fleet hubs, according to EY.

Solar energy distribution and storage, smart technology and wireless charging are all areas that could help the infrastructure adapt and meet demand, according to the report.

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