Home Charging Proves Ideal Approach for Electric Fleet Adoption



Companies choosing at-home charging need a consistent way to reimburse employees for expenses. Consider that most employees will want to separate their business and personal travel charging expenses.

 

Photo: Bullet EV Charging Solutions


Three options answer the overriding question confronting fleet owners and managers about electrification: Depot, public, and/or at-home charging?

While fleets with EVs often choose a combo approach, first wave adopters are finding that at home-charging leads to the most stability and data accuracy for an electric fleet.

Three experts shared their findings and insights at the most recent Fleet Forward Conference in November 2023 in Santa Clara, California:  

  • Aleece Beaulieu, US Pharma fleet manager, Genentech
  • Ken Sapp, senior vice president of business development, Qmerit
  • Dave Lewis, founder and CEO, MoveEv

In sum, the panelists’ insights point to a core reality at this early stage of fleet electrification: The only way to decentralize the power grid and really scale EV adoption is to have a charging-at-home-first approach. It must be hyper-data focused so a fleet operation can accurately track electricity usage and costs on a simplified and coherent dashboard.

“We are learning all of the lessons, every step of the way,” Beaulieu said.

The panelists collectively asserted and discussed the following key points in three areas: Fleet home charging programs, charger installation, and employee reimbursement for EV power draws.

Building a Fleet At-Home Charging Program

  • Charging at home first is the least expensive way for a fleet to keep its vehicles regularly charged. They save time and motivate employees to be involved with a company’s sustainability goals.
  • If you run an at-home fleet, you need an at-home charger program. Drivers cannot rely on public infrastructure because they need a consistent, reliable way to charge their vehicles.
  • Companies with EV home-charge programs should thoroughly assess the readiness of individual employees to use and charge an EV. Possible tools include an employee’s survey documenting their types of homes, locations, and daily mileage averages; an EV readiness assessment quiz; a sustainability pledge to regularly plug-in the vehicle; and a full understanding of how range may vary against the full-range estimates from the manufacturers.
  • Users do not drive EVs under perfect conditions. As with any vehicle, some drivers have a lead foot, some like max A/C or heat, while no one always drives a vehicle under ideal conditions and good habits. That can cause EV range to vary, along with weather changes day to day. All these variables must factor into range calculations.
  • Operations should plan for Level 2 chargers to provide reliable consistent charging overnight. Data from telematics or connected fleet solutions can help fleets find the best charging infrastructure.
  • Company fleet managers must also identify uncertainties and pain points: When are the right times to order EVs and install chargers to avoid lag periods for either one? What is the quality of varying Wi-Fi providers at employee homes and how well do they sync? How do you detect and track gaps in data flows that may occur? What are the best cost reimbursement methods and/or subsidies for employees with EVs, such as for electric usage, charger installation, and related costs?
  • For EV driving employees in multi-family housing, there is no one-size-fits-all charging solution, given the differences among condominium, townhome, and apartment communities. In some instances, public charging may be available close to homes. The costs and access for each situation should be considered individually.
  • Charging once in public during the day is tolerable; more than once is not. Be aware of seasonal effects on range and the frequency of charging needs. Some daily duty cycles and mileage requirements may not be feasible in certain seasons. How much time are employees sitting during a charge? Basing fleet usage on a daily round-trip based on one home charge is ideal, with occasional public charging to fill any gaps.

A panel of EV home charging experts educated fleet managers about home-based charging at the Fleet Forward Conference in Santa Clara, California, on Nov. 8, 2023. (L to R): Aleece Beaulieu, US Pharma fleet manager, Genentech; Ken Sapp, senior vice president of business development, Qmerit; and Dave Lewis, founder and CEO, MoveEv.  -  Photo: Lauren Brooks / Monclay Media

A panel of EV home charging experts educated fleet managers about home-based charging at the Fleet Forward Conference in Santa Clara, California, on Nov. 8, 2023. (L to R): Aleece Beaulieu, US Pharma fleet manager, Genentech; Ken Sapp, senior vice president of business development, Qmerit; and Dave Lewis, founder and CEO, MoveEv.

Photo: Lauren Brooks / Monclay Media


A Must-Do List for Installing EV Chargers at Homes

  • One of the most important factors for a fleet operation is to ensure the process is convenient and smooth for the driver-employees since they have a day job to do.
  • Can the home handle the big new EV powering load, which can run for six to eight hours per day? This requires a lot of expertise. A certified licensed electrician must come out to the house for an assessment and price quote and to ensure it can be permitted.
  • Costs vary among homes even in the same neighborhood because houses may have different lots and configurations for electric supply and charger location.
  • Fleet owners should devise a centralized system to process and analyze all the price and work quotes that are placed in a consistent format for review and approval.
  • You need a firm price quote for a driver’s home to install a Level 2 charging station that requires a 240-volt circuit on a dedicated circuit, which involves getting a local permit.
  • In many cases, electrical fuse boxes and panels will need to be upgraded, with varying costs. The EV charging power must be brought into the garage.
  • Drivers will occasionally pay part of the costs if they want specific changes to a standard installation that goes above the allowance for the project.
  • Even if employees want an EV and home charger, they may not be motivated to figure it out on their own. Companies should provide education and support through internal administrators who can respond to employee needs.

Calculating Usage Metrics and Reimbursement on Connected EVs

  • Fleet managers must decide whether to follow a charging plan that combines depot public, or at home chargers. The best option is home charging, as electric fleet vehicles using all three will require a method to accurately document and store the expenses at other charging stations for reimbursement. Consider that most employees will want to separate their business and personal travel charging expenses.
  • Companies choosing at-home charging need a consistent way to reimburse employees for expenses. The entire process of employee charging reimbursement requires “hyper-transparency” in methods, policy, and data to avoid a poor experience where employees feel they are paying out of pocket for power usage.
  • There are three options for covering employee charging costs: Do and pay for everything; don’t do anything and reimburse for everything; or you do nothing at all and rely on employees to use available outlets. Some companies want to avoid construction on employee homes and the risks that accompany that.
  • Fleet operations should make sure the reimbursement is fair and avoid just flat fees or allowances. Such payments could be subject to taxes. Kilowatt usage will vary, and you don’t want unhappy employees paying out of pocket for a service the company provides.
  • One option for a charging reimbursement program is to set up a dedicated meter, which requires figuring out how to get an accurate method or unit of multiple to calculate the kilowatt capture of how much energy went into the car, which can be done from the charger.
  • Another option is to do vehicle-based reporting and integrate the EV with an OEM-based or installed telematics solution.
  • Employers and drivers should be aware that Wi-Fi can be unreliable at times and raises the question of who pays for it. Nearby residents with EVs may also figure out a way to use the Wi-Fi to access charging. But reliable Wi-Fi can enable smart charging and tracking in real time for more regular reimbursement.
  • A thoughtful plan should consider geographic differences in utility electricity rates. The goal is to optimize usage to minimize costs for the company and employees. An energy audit can accurately track variances in usage, rates, and overall costs, and help the employee better understand the energy flow for an electric vehicle.
  • For employees who power their homes with full or part solar energy, a fleet operation should get specific information each month from the employee’s utility bill and derive a company policy that fairly compensates electric usage for the company vehicles.
  • Most employees will prefer a reimbursement formula that treats them as if they don’t have solar panels, since it has nothing to do with the actual kilowatt usage costs. They should be paid fairly like everyone else, while reaping the benefit of investing in solar panels and equipment.
  • A software-based tracking, accounting, and reimbursement approach is a must for medium to larger fleet. Burdening an HR department with EV reimbursements tasks for EVs will take too much time, beyond just a few vehicles.
  • Not all vehicles are created or work the same when interacting with telematics. A diverse fleet will see variations in performance and among model years.
  • While there is no perfect universal solution, the best approach to home charging reimbursement should be the simplest one. Over time, most charging station providers will be able to integrate their chargers with different telematics systems.

 



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