The game-changing digital technology to get the most from your EV infrastructure

The use of peak demand management software can significantly reduce peak energy loads and their associated costs.

Cities and countries around the world are accelerating their efforts to electrify transportation. In their battle against pollution and the effects of climate change, many are encouraging electrification through incentives, rebates and special parking for electric vehicles (EVs). Others are taking a more aggressive approach through regulation and stiff fines for noncompliance. Cities including London, Brussels and Madrid have announced “zero emission zones” (ZEZs), restricting traffic in their city centers to pedestrians, bicycles, private and commercial EVs, and electrified public transit.

These policies are driving a rapid acceleration of EV adoption. By 2040, EVs will account for more than half of global passenger vehicle sales, and 30 percent of all passenger vehicles on the road will be electric, according to Bloomberg NEF. Commercial fleets are also racing toward electrification. UPS in London has converted nearly one third of its delivery vehicles from diesel to electric and has ordered 125 Tesla Semis. Pepsi, FedEx, DHL and Anheuser-Busch are also among the companies making significant investments in electrification.

In the long term, electric commercial fleets promise clean, efficient operation and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). However, the transition will be complicated. Fleet operators need to consider what kind of charging infrastructure to build, vehicle range, route requirements, charging schedules and utilities’ pricing structures.

And they need to figure out how it all makes sense economically—should they invest in batteries to reduce their load during peak rate times? Can they time-shift their charging schedule to even out demand? What’s the ROI for investing in their own wind or solar power? These questions are particularly perplexing for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) that have limited funds to invest in their electric fleet infrastructure.

In my previous blog, we discussed some of the key considerations SME fleet operators considering how to go electric. Here we will take the topic further by diving deeper into particular technologies that are likely to make the most tangible difference for such businesses. To help SMEs navigate the transition to electric, the ABB Ability™ Digital Transformation Group conducted a study with münchner taxi zentrum (mtz), a German taxi operator with 10 EVs in their fleet. Modelled on the performance of the 50KW ABB Terra 53 fast chargers, the study explored the opportunities around both energy savings and new commercial models that can be used within the market today.

One of the key findings of this study was that the use of peak demand management (PDM) software can significantly reduce peak energy loads and their associated costs. PDM solutions manage the complex interactions of energy consumption, production and storage, and can optimize charging times and sources to meet fleet demand while minimizing costs. The study found that EV PDM alone could reduce the maximum peak for mtz by 15%. Combined with energy storage, the PDM solution would reduce the peak by 32%.


Even without additional physical assets such as power generation and storage, PDM solutions can achieve significant dampening of peak loads. This is because PDM solutions can control the energy demand of the chargers, or in other cases even control the flow of energy through the switchgear supplying the chargers.

Real-time, digital PDM solutions have minimal cost with significant impact. They provide a powerful difference between a basic charging configuration and a smart system that delivers against real business ROI. You can see the impact of PDM solutions for various fleet configurations by reading the complete study here. 

In the final installment of this three-part series, I will discuss how small electric fleet operators can leverage their charging infrastructure to not only reduce costs, but to create new revenue streams for their business.

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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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