Transitioning to a green fleet is one of the most effective ways companies in the transport and logistics sector can shrink their carbon footprints. However, if you take this step, keeping your electric fleet vehicles charged and on the road will require you to adapt the way you work.

Following the government’s announcement of its new transport decarbonisation plan in 2021, proposals are being forged to develop the UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. And leaps are already being made in this area, with 2020 seeing the largest annual increase of charge-points yet. This means, with some careful planning, you can start introducing your electric fleet to the UK’s roads right now.

To help ensure your move to electric vehicles goes smoothly, we’re going to explain exactly how you can effectively charge your fleet to avoid spending any unnecessary time off the road.

How to optimise fleet vehicle charging at your depot

Your vehicles will need to be charged whenever they arrive back at your base. So, your premises must be properly equipped to handle this.

If you install the right charging solutions and use them well, you’ll significantly cut your fleet costs, optimise your fleet’s productivity, and play your part in turning the logistics sector green. Here’s what you need to consider when installing your charging points and how you can use them effectively.

Install the right charging points for your vehicles

When you’re ready to install electric vehicle chargers at your workplace, you’ll have three options: slow chargers, fast chargers, and rapid chargers

Slow chargers will take 6–12 hours to fully charge an electric vehicle’s battery, and they’ll work well for the majority of electric vehicles. Meanwhile, fast chargers are typically found on public streets or commercial premises and they’ll take approximately half the time to charge your vehicles.

Rapid chargers will take 30–50 minutes to charge an electric vehicle to 80%, depending on the type and model. However, this mode of charging isn’t suitable for all vehicles and should typically be reserved for pure-electric models and those that require rapid charging for long-distance journeys.

The most suitable option for your premises will depend on the types of vehicles you’re planning to invest in and how your fleet tends to operate. For instance, if your vehicles always return to the depot at night, fast chargers are likely to be the best solution. But, if your drivers only make quick stops at your base, rapid chargers could be more suitable.

Ensure your infrastructure can accommodate all of your vehicles

You also need to ensure that your overall infrastructure is going to be able to accommodate your fleet. You should consider whether it’s likely your fleet will grow any time soon, too — of course, you’ll need enough charging points to power all of your existing vehicles, but consider whether it’s wise to install some additional chargers for future vehicles you may invest in.

Additionally, it’s vital to assess the electricity supply of your premises to check you have the capacity to charge all of your vehicles. If you need any support in this area, with MICHELIN Connected Fleet, we can help you to evaluate your current situation and build a strong charging strategy that will satisfy all of your needs.

Power your charging points with green energy

While investing in electric vehicles and installing grid-powered charging points will certainly put a significant dent in your carbon footprint, you can still take it a step further. Powering your charging points with renewable energy, such as wind or solar power, will help to reduce your fleet’s carbon emissions to zero.

You may wish to bring all of your electricity generation in-house by investing in your own renewable sources. Or, you could enlist the help of a company that already specialises in supplying premises with sustainable energy solutions.

Make vehicle and charging point maintenance a priority

To ensure your fleet always runs efficiently, you’ll need to invest time and energy into the maintenance of your fleet vehicles and their charging points.

Reputable electrical vehicle manufacturers should provide you with regular charging point checks and services. However, it’s also a good idea to schedule your own checks so, if there are any problems, you can spot them as soon as possible and arrange for them to be fixed.

You should check your charging points for signs of wear or damage before every use, and keep them clean to avoid a build-up of dirt that might have an impact on their effectiveness. While your charging points will be water-resistant, the connector should be kept dry, so it’s best to wipe your equipment down with a dry cloth to keep it clean.

How to optimise fleet vehicle charging on the road

Your drivers will need to know how to properly charge their vehicles when they’re on the road. This will give everyone peace of mind and ensure you don’t encounter any disasters involving empty batteries.

Driver behaviour can also have a significant impact on how long your vehicles’ charged batteries will last. So, as well as teaching your team how to drive safely, it’s vital that you outline how they can ensure their batteries last, and how to charge their vehicles on the road if they’re ever required to do so. Let’s take a look at how you can ensure your fleet is always adequately charged, even when they’re away from your depot.

Plan your routes accordingly

Before making the switch to electric vehicles, use fleet management solutions to track your fleet and their current journeys. You can then get an accurate idea of whether or not there are already sufficient charging points on each route, or adjustments will need to be made.

If you aren’t familiar with which of the UK’s roads are equipped with suitable charging points, Zap-Map has a route planner that will help you to plan your fleet’s journeys. You can edit your requirements, entering details like the models of your vehicles or what kinds of charging points you need, and the tool will help you to map the quickest and most convenient routes with charging points.

Schedule your drivers’ breaks with charging in mind

Charging their vehicles could take your drivers off the road for up to an hour if they’re using a rapid charger. So, if possible, it’s wise to schedule their breaks for times when they’re going to be close to an electric vehicle charging point.

Similarly, if your drivers make any overnight stops, plan these for areas where there is easy access to overnight charging stations. As long as every route and stop is planned properly, charging stops shouldn’t become an inconvenience. Your aim should be to keep your vehicles suitably charged while still optimising your fleet’s delivery times and productivity.

Ensure your drivers know which charging points are suitable

Your drivers will need to find compatible chargers on the road. So, provide them with all of the information they’ll need to determine which chargers they can use.

The answer will usually depend on the vehicle model and how much time they have. Fast chargers tend to be the most appropriate for overnight charging, while rapid chargers will work well if a driver can only afford to take a short break.

Every time a member of staff is given a new electric vehicle, brief them on the ins and outs of how it should be charged to help them feel confident about keeping their vehicle on the road.