28 Mar 24

How to minimise eLCV charging costs

Reconciling the two different costs of recharging an electric light commercial vehicle is proving a challenge for businesses.

The clearly visible cost is the energy tariff paid for each kilowatt of electricity. The hidden cost is the lost productivity of driver downtime while the vehicle is plugged in.

This is why some fleets, such as Schindler, will only give an e-LCV to technicians who can recharge their vehicle either at home or at the workplace.

“We cannot compromise our productivity and business efficiency by having technicians parked up at a public charging station for an hour during the day,” said Luca Mancuso, Global Category Manager Mobility (Car Fleet, Travel & Hospitality) at Schindler.

“Plus, the TCO of EVs only makes sense if you can charge at home or at the office, where the energy cost is 20-25 cents per kilowatt, and our TCO calculations are based on this assumption. When you start to charge on the street, the cost will more than double, and if a technician wants to fast charge to get to his next job site quickly, energy costs can rise as high as 90c per kw.”







Public charging

Unfortunately, for businesses that do not operate a back-to-depot fleet cycle, public charging is a necessity if a driver cannot plug in at home. The challenge is to schedule charging events with planned vehicle downtime to maintain business efficiency.

Powerbank chargers

Logistics giant DPD, which has a fleet of more than 3,500 e-LCVs in the UK, has trialled a solution that enables drivers without a home charger to charge at home. The OnCharge ZIR0 is a 50kW powerbank that drivers collect fully charged from the depot at the end of the day, and then use to recharge their vehicles overnight, before returning the ZIRO to the depot in the morning when they collect their next parcels.

Route planning

For other fleets that have to rely on public chargers, the solution lies in close collaboration with route planning, logistics, despatch, operations and sales teams to ensure vehicles not only follow the most efficient routes, but also have the most convenient opportunities to recharge when their batteries are low.

This is easier for vehicles that follow fixed routes, especially if they have guaranteed dwell times at specific locations where they might be able to recharge. The development of dedicated fleet charging stations supports this strategy, with fleets able to guarantee access to a charger. BP Pulse is building a series of these hubs, targeting delivery, blue light, field services and taxi drivers.

Adrian Brabazon, head of UK fleet solutions at bp, said: “Downtime is one of the biggest focus areas of any fleet because, invariably, it is costing money one way or the other so availability of the charger and speed of charger are critical.”

And for fleets with unpredictable routes, EV-specific telematics solutions enable fleet operators to plan data-led routes that maximise battery range, and plot charging infrastructure along the route. The ability to monitor battery state of charge in real time and identify suitable charging stations in close proximity to the vehicle is essential to avoid the risk of eLCVs being stranded.

Read more in our E-Book: Clean & Lean Commercial Fleets

Images: Shutterstock 1833355390 and 1939215124

Authored by: Jonathan Manning