Electric vehicle charging options for commercial fleets

3rd April 2023  |  Electric vehicle

Transitioning commercial fleet vehicles to electric alternatives presents a range of benefits, including lower operating costs, reduced maintenance, and zero emissions. To realise these benefits, businesses need to understand the various forms of charging options that are available, and which are applicable to their vehicles.

So, what are the different EV charging options, and which ones are suitable for different types of commercial fleets?

What are the different charging options?

Level 1

Level 1 chargers represent the slow yet accessible foundation of EV infrastructure. They use the standard three-pin chargers that are compatible with household plugs, along with the widespread seven-pin J1772 connector for the vehicle. As they require no installation of additional electronics or charging stations, level 1 chargers are the least costly and most accessible. That said, these chargers are referred to as “slow chargers” for a reason.

Level 1 chargers are rated from 2.3 to 6kW, typically taking around 10-14 hours to reach a full charge for a passenger car alone. It uses standard AC (alternating current) without any additional equipment, hence the long charging times. But all things considered, the accessibility and low cost of Level 1 chargers are what has made them so commonplace.

Level 2

Level 2 chargers are the most commonly used EV power source in the UK. Described as fast-chargers, domestic level 2 devices are rated at 7.3kW, whilst specialised commercial chargers can be upwards of 22kW; the former fully charges a passenger car between 6-8 hours whereas the latter takes only three.

As opposed to level 1 chargers, level 2 requires the installation of specialised equipment to provide the energy delivery required. These devices cost in the range of £300-£1500 to install, which can increase for dedicated commercial fleet applications. Level 2 chargers represent a moderate balance between accessibility and charging speed for small and medium fleet vehicles.

DC chargers (Level 3)

DC (direct current) chargers are currently the fastest form of EV charging. Thanks to their use of DC instead of AC, standard level 3 chargers are rated at 43-50kW with specialised ultra-rapid stations reaching a high of 350kW. Instead of charging overnight, DC chargers can see medium-sized fleet vehicles fully charged within an hour.

Due to the advanced technology required, DC chargers present the most significant cost of all the options available. They use dedicated CSS or CHAdeMO connectors, along with Tesla’s own unique supercharger cable. Depending on the energy delivery of the unit, prices are within the range of £40,000 – £175,000. When it comes to fleet applications, the cost moves to the higher bracket due to specialised features being required.

Suitable charging options for different commercial fleets

Passenger vehicle fleets – accessibility

Passenger vehicle commercial EV fleets consist of EV vehicles that are identical to those used by average drivers, such as taxi or car rental fleets. These fleets often have a large quantity of vehicles active in a concentrated area, leading to potential charging issues when there is a limited number of available stations; this is a particular issue in the transition to London based EV taxi services.

Due to the issues related to charging accessibility, level 1 & 2 charging options are suitable for passenger vehicle fleets. Level 1 allows for the charging of greater numbers of vehicles that can be charged overnight at minimal cost. Level 2 is an upgrade on charging speed for fleets with less vehicles available, with the added ability of installing a dedicated station at a workplace.

Delivery/utility fleets – balance

Delivery and utility commercial fleets represent those that use medium-sized vans or trucks to transport goods or equipment. Compared to passenger fleets, these EVs have greater power demands due to increases in weight and longer distances travelled. There is a strong eco-friendly incentive to switch to EVs in this industry, especially as 30% of all traffic in central London is commercial freight vehicles.

Because of the greater demands of energy, delivery and utility EV fleets require a minimum of level 2 charging and level 3 if it is available. Level 1 fails to provide sufficient energy delivery for the capacity of these vehicles, leading to a loss of fleet efficiency. Level 2 represents the perfect balance between delivery and accessibility, whereas level 3 is a welcome upgrade when it is available; which usually isn’t commonplace in the areas they operate.

Truck/lorry fleets – specialised charging

Truck and lorry commercial fleets are the largest fleet vehicles, usually dedicated to transport substantial quantities of goods. These vehicles have the greatest demands of any EV vehicle, weighing in the range of 20 tonnes and travelling vast distances. EV truck fleets are starting to be implemented by businesses such as Tesco, and are predicted to reduce their weight in CO2 emissions.

Level 3 charging is the most viable option available to large-scale EVs like lorries and trucks. They require substantial energy delivery to reach full charge without affecting fleet efficiency. The specialised super-charging capabilities offered by DC stations are less accessible, but the larger travel distances means these vehicles can usually reach the designated locations where stations are available. That said, this limited charging infrastructure is making it a challenging transition for businesses.

Get all the information you need to transition to an electric fleet with Dalroad

Electric commercial fleets can bring benefits to businesses, consumers and the environment as a whole. Understanding the difference in charging technology is key to realising these benefits, especially in specialised applications such as EV truck fleets. Fortunately, Dalroad has all the resources you need to transition your combustion fleet to electric. Get in touch with Dalroad’s in-house engineers to discuss your project.

Download our free guide  The future of electric vehicle batteries: A look at the latest technologies Download Now