Data as the Key to Fleet Electrification
By George Hobbs, eMobility Product Lead
23 October 2023
Up front data analytics can save you costs in the hundreds of thousands if not millions, across your fleet transition by tailoring your transformation plan to each fleet’s specific operations. The EV transition is a chance to review and optimise your fleet operations.
The critical success factor for any fleet electrification is bespoke design and planning around specific requirements – vehicle types, routes, operational patterns and energy availability, all of which vary in every fleet.
That means the first step in the transition must be to analyse a combination of the existing fleet telematics and corresponding energy consumption data at depots. We have found that data quality varies significantly among the fleets we work with but, when optimised, is the linchpin for a successful transition to electric vehicles.
In my view, true optimisation comes from breaking the assumption that your EV fleet will operate the same as your ICE fleet.
Cost is cited regularly as a reason to postpone electrification, but in many instances, despite a higher purchase price or leasing rental, running battery electric vehicles can be more cost-effective over time than internal combustion engines.
Data: Driving Decarbonisation Decisions
To stay competitive, business owners and fleet managers must understand that moving to electric vehicles (EVs) is more than buying new vehicles and chargers. Rather, it is about using data to make informed decisions on your feasibility to electrify and ensuring future operational performance and resilience are cost-effective.
Analysing quality fleet data will guide your decisions on which vehicles are ready to transition first. It will determine the energy requirement for your fleet, the size and shape of your charging infrastructure, and the optimum charge scheduling to keep your vehicles on the road when and where they need to be.
First, evaluate the quality of your fleet data. Some organisations have precise real-time telematics data, while others lack basic information about vehicle usage. Data quality directly affects the accuracy of analysis and the success of your EV transition.
Critical Challenge: Energy Supply
Determining the likely impact on your grid connection upgrade is a critical success factor in every transition. Upfront analysis and optimising when to charge vehicles can help you avoid or reduce grid upgrades, one of the most expensive and time-consuming parts of the electrification transition.
Charging fleets requires a massive increase in power demand, with one rapid charger requiring the same power supply as an entire block of flats. From modelling a customer’s charging behaviour, we were able to identify strategies to avoid a 2MVA grid upgrade.
Creating a pathway to optimised electrification is like a puzzle of priorities, impacts and unintended consequences, where one decision can recommend corresponding strategies.
Electrification Readiness Report
Our data analysis will produce an electrification readiness report which effectively sets out the design of your fleet EV transition programme. It will show the configuration and timing for the transition.
Our analysis shows that as much as 30% of a fleet has the potential to be electrified today with the currently available market technology without any operational change.
A data-led approach avoids the risk of over-spend and provides the optimum charging infrastructure for your fleet. It is not a case of one charger for every vehicle – a mistake we regularly see from a lack of data-led planning.
The report will also show the optimum charging schedule for your vehicles and set out your future energy demand. We can then assess the required energy capacity and make recommendations based on appropriate energy sources – including grid and solar energy.
Set Priorities and Use Data to Reduce Risk
We recommend specifying your priority before designing your EV transition. Is it to protect mission-critical journeys? Or to transition in the shortest possible time to meet carbon reduction goals and access low-carbon contracts? Perhaps the priority is cost reduction. Fleet electrification isn’t one size fits all. By outlining clear priorities, you can use the data insights to design the transition accordingly and reduce business risk.
Selecting your priority considerations will help you inform and choose the correct combined mix of strategies to help electrify the way that suits you. Data analysis allows for tailored vehicle choices, battery sizes, and charging infrastructure based on your fleet’s unique profile, leading to cost savings and efficiency improvements. It will enable you to determine how to operate your EV fleet at the lowest cost, with integrated solar and battery solutions as an example, helping to avoid grid upgrades that can cost upwards of £1M.
Whether you want to guarantee operational resilience and reduce the total cost or rapidly decarbonise, your choice will inform your strategy and plan to achieve electrification. For example:
Selecting larger battery vehicles will cost more but requires less operational change.
Intelligent planning and digitalising fleet operations will save you CAPEX in vehicles and chargers but will require a digital transformation of how you operate fleets.
Both strategies are valid for the right fleet, and we tailor each plan individually, utilising the correct transition strategy to achieve your goals. Our detailed data-driven plans in the past identified over £150,000 of savings at one site by right-sizing battery sizes to operations.
Fleet electrification technology is evolving, and data insights will enable you to adapt and adjust your strategy based on real-world results and changing priorities. Flexibility and data analysis are crucial for success.
As we progress toward electrified fleets, data will continue to drive decision-making and operational optimisation.
Start your fleet electrification journey with VEV today. Contact us.