Beyond sustainability: Turning your small fleet charging infrastructure into new revenue streams

In the electrification revolution, one size does not fit all.

Why do commercial fleet operators choose to go electric? According to a study by GreenBiz and UPS, the top two reasons are sustainability and total cost of ownership. Both are powerful motivators, but what many people don’t realize is that electrification may also offer opportunities to create new revenue.

ABB partnered with münchner taxi zentrum (mtz) in Germany to explore the opportunities around both energy savings and new commercial models that can be used by small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the market today. In my previous two blogs about our findings, I discussed factors to consider when going electric, and technologies to help manage energy use. In this third and final installment, we’ll look at the opportunity to turn your charging infrastructure into a money-making proposition. Our analysis was based on the performance of mtz’s 10 Jaguar iPace taxies and five ABB Terra 53 50kW DC fast charging stations.

Businesses that make the leap to electric expect that eventually the investment in EVs and charging stations will pay off. You can accelerate that payoff by looking at the unused capacity of your infrastructure. For example, mtz has 10 electric taxis using five chargers with two peak charging periods before the morning and evening rush hours. Since the maximum peak is a major cost component of the energy expenditure, the first step is to reduce the peak. Our study showed that the company could shave 15% off the maximum load level using the peak demand management (PDM) solution discussed in my last blog.

The next step is to identify unused capacity. As you can see in the chart below, during a single 24-hour period there are up to 20 hours in which the charging facilities are not occupied. Since pricing is based on the peak, there would be no penalty if the company operated under that peak for the remaining 20 hours. In theory, this leaves a total additional load capacity in excess of 4000 kWhrs over a 24-hour period.

Businesses can capitalize on this spare capacity by selling it as a service to those who need it—whether consumers looking for a convenient place to charge their car, or other businesses transitioning to an electric fleet.

Will it make economic sense to set up the processes and technologies needed to market and deliver this service on top of your core business? Fortunately, in most urban areas the lack of charging infrastructure combined with a growing number of EVs provides a ripe market opportunity. You will just need a modest investment to cover additional system requirements, such as:

  • Access to publicly available digital charge point databases and digital app-based booking systems
  • Minimal system upgrades, primarily the addition of a digitally enabled meter to allow you to measure customer use and monitor your more variable energy profile

Generally, as long as you operate beneath the maximum peak and pay attention to tariff structures, this service can provide sustainable new revenue. If you are operating five chargers, you could offer services for up to 80% of capacity, or four vehicles per hour and still remain well below your maximum peak. Assuming a market demand of 50% of available capacity across the 20-hour period, you could gain revenue equal to two cars per hour for 20 hours, or 40 car-hours.

If priced correctly for local demand, providing such services would allow you to capitalize on the value of your grid connection and leverage it as a new revenue stream that supplements your core business.

In the electrification revolution, one size does not fit all. But for many SMEs, leveraging the unused capacity of existing infrastructure can be a source of new and lasting value. Read the full ABB-mtz study to find out how your small-to-medium sized enterprise can make the most from your charging infrastructure.

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About the author

Roze Wesby

Roze Wesby is ABB’s Global lead for Digital Transformation in Transportation. She is responsible for digital adoption in the electrification and automation of transportation, acceleration of ABB’s associated digital businesses and incubation of strategic digital programs in the sector.
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