Top five tips to integrating electric vehicles into business fleets

Last week an electric vehicles webinar supported by Centrica Business Solutions looked at how businesses could scale up their low emissions transport programmes. Here, edie rounds-up five key takeaways presented by the expert speakers.

The webinar is available to watch on-demand.

The webinar is available to watch on-demand.

The webinar, which included speakers from UPS and Nottingham City Council, looked at energy storage and battery solutions as well as new advances in Vehicle-to-Grid technologies. 

---- WATCH THE EV WEBINAR ON DEMAND HERE ----

Below are the top five takeaways from the event.

1) Range Extending Vehicles are here to stay

Speaking about UPS' trial of range-extending vehicles (REEVs) which began in September 2019 in Birmingham, sustainability coordinator for the company, Claire Thompson-Sage said the firm retrofitted seven-year-old diesel vehicles which produced a 400km range.

UPS has now deployed 15 such vehicles across Southampton and Birmingham in a bid to alleviate concerns about working within low-emission zones in city centre areas. By allowing the vehicles to move from diesel to EV when they cross a designated low-emission boundary, it has been possible to accommodate range anxiety with emissions concerns.

2) Training is critical to EV transition success

Discussing both the maintenance of EVs for UPS' Camden smart grid project and also Nottingham's EV maintenance centre, both speakers agreed that staff re-training and education were critical to the success of transitioning away from the internal combustion engine.

Vehicle maintenance and ensuring that all key stakeholders are aware of lifecycles and what is required in terms of costs and products to keep EVs running is critical to the success of implementing EV strategies. It is also important to develop lines of communication with vehicle manufacturers to increase knowledge and awareness of the new technologies and systems that are put into newly manufactured EVs.

3) Planning EV infrastructure is important

UPS' Thompson-Sage highlighted within the webinar are number of business-critical elements to ensure infrastructure for EVs was well planned for success.

She said that identifying vehicle routes & mileage, assessing and analysing the charging window, and the existing power usage in the charge window was vital to making EVs work efficiently for business. She also said existing power and shortfall should be looked at and evaluation of electricity supply and charging options.

4) Vehicle-to-Grid is a viable energy solution for local authorities and public companies to pursue:

Steve Cornes, electric bus manager and V2G manager at Nottingham City Council illustrated how at one of the local authority's municipal depots V2G had been successfully implemented in order to supply renewable energy to the EVs, the building, and also to store excess energy for later usage. 

Cornes highlighted that V2G came with many challenges, including the infrastructure and costs required, the fact the Distribution Network Operator considered the solar photovoltaics on the depot, the battery storage unit and the V2G units all as generators capable of being exported to the grid. He also said that when looking at such projects the future use of the building and fleet requirements should be assessed - as well as what other fleet requirements the local authority or business may have going forward. There was also a question around whether V2G was truly 'market ready' in terms of both vehicles presently available and V2G units.

5) EVs can form part of the overall net-zero strategy

Presented ahead of edie's net-zero month of content in November, the webinar also touched on how EVs could be a useful tool in helping companies fulfil their net-zero ambitions and target setting. Nottingham City Council has plans to be a carbon-neutral city by 2028 - and has recently opened its EV vehicle maintenance centre to ensure the continued transition is kept on the move with vehicles being kept on the road. Additionally, there are plans to expand its overall electric fleet across 2020 to include cage tippers, sweepers and RCVs.

James Evison



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