Creating a roadmap for your fleet’s electrified future

The fastest-growing contributor to climate change is the transport sector, accounting for 23 percent of global energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to The Climate Group[1].

Expanding the adoption of EVs is one of the most effective ways to lower carbon emissions. The time for electric is now. In recent years, groundbreaking technological advances and government policies have accelerated the transition to electric vehicles (EVs). Countries around the world have set ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions and have announced plans to phase out the internal combustion engine entirely in the coming years as a result of growing public concern about the impact of climate change.

To increase the adoption of EVs, governments are providing incentives, such as subsidies or tax relief on EV purchases. Currently, there are over 7 million passenger EVs on the road, with more than 500,000 e-buses and nearly 400,000 electric delivery vans and trucks, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance[2]. With increasing government and societal pressure to lower emissions and increase sales of EVs, fleet owners must prepare for the future.

Along with offering environmental benefits, an electrified fleet will also translate to lower total cost of ownership, benefitting fleet owners. By 2030, EVs can have a total cost of ownership that is 15 to 25 percent less than that of equivalent vehicles with an internal combustion engine (ICE), according to McKinsey[3]. The drivetrain of an EV includes fewer parts, compared with an engine of an ICE vehicle, leading to the requirement of less periodic maintenance and lower costs.

Simultaneously, the cost of electricity is lower and more stable compared to diesel. Furthermore, switching to an electric fleet can be carried out in phases with a scalable and modular solution. By evolving the fleet to electric in this way, fleet owners can start to see the benefits of the total cost of ownership of EVs while keeping the initial investment low.

Preparing the charging infrastructure

As technology for EVs continues to improve, it is becoming easier to transition. However, it is essential to evaluate some parameters before making the switch to get a clear visibility of how the transition will take place and the benefits on offer.

The first step is to identify the routes that the EVs will take, the type of EVs for the fleet and the portion of the fleet that needs to be electrified. Based on these parameters, fleet owners can determine their charging and energy needs – addressing key factors for an effective charging infrastructure. With the EV technology rapidly evolving, fleet owners need to have future-proof and scalable charging solutions that can accommodate future requirements of EVs.

It is also important to consider the electrical grid infrastructure needs of a new EV fleet. Typically, a fleet site for ICE vehicles would not have a large enough grid connection to supply enough charging power without an upgrade. Fleet owners can transition in phases, wherein the first phase can include a smaller number of vehicles. This will also allow fleet owners to gather insights from the first phase of conversion and prepare for the next phase.

A full conversion can be carried out after assessing the total power requirement. In the case of a new site, a detailed plan can be laid out for the charging infrastructure and operations. With an existing site, however, there may be limited space or power availability for building the right charging infrastructure. In both situations various modifications can be made, such as utilizing an additional building to place the chargers. A grid upgrade might take between six months to two years, depending on local requirements, the site layout/ location and grid availability. If charging requirements exceed the grid capacity in the interim, battery energy storage with synchronizing controls can often provide the power needed until the grid infrastructure can be put in place.

Optimizing EV charging

Once charging requirements and power needs are established, fleet owners will need to start a discussion with the local utility about options for grid upgrades. There exist standard modules to aid with the upgrade.

Energy storage systems can help to shift grid load from peak hours to non-peak hours by providing stored energy to power the vehicles during peak-demand hours instead of pulling that power directly from the grid. The energy storage system can then be “refilled” over night when electricity rates are cheaper, effectively lowering the cost to charge. They can also be used to store renewable energy or buffer for fuel cells, making the process completely sustainable and lowering carbon emissions.

Typically, the most cost-effective way to charge a fleet of vehicles is through overnight charging. However, in some cases when routes exceed the range of the electric vehicles, additional charging points outside of the depot would be needed. To deploy additional chargers, it is essential to evaluate the route plan, calculate the distance the vehicle travels in one round and then assess the best locations to deploy the additional chargers on the route. Fleet owners can benefit by placing chargers that can serve multiple vehicles in different routes.

In some busy cities, such as New York, it may not be feasible to place chargers en route. However, there are third-party companies that provide route planning services to effectively utilize EVs, and new technologies that help optimize charging and load management.

E-mobility is the future

The latest plug-and-play and pantograph solutions can intelligently charge fleets. Simultaneously, they are also prepared to provide faster charging for future generations of EVs and can accommodate newer technology changes and requirements. It’s important that the charging solution is flexible and can accommodate the next generation of electric vehicles with newer battery technology and advanced software features. Upgradeability will be an important feature for the charging infrastructure.

With advanced electrical infrastructure and scalable solutions, it is easier to provide EV charging in a cost-efficient and sustainable manner. The key to lower costs in the transition lies in using energy efficiently and monitoring unused capacity that can be saved for later or leveraged to generate additional revenues.

The electric transition is swiftly breaking ground across several industries, including mining, marine and cargo. ABB technology is at the center of providing fast, reliable and effective charging solutions, with over 17,000 direct current (DC) fast chargers deployed in more than 80 countries across the world. With unrivalled expertise in this area, ABB offers great interoperability of chargers and vehicles. The industry is rapidly evolving with innovative and more advanced technologies, which will make the transition easier for fleet owners.

There are additional ways fleet owners can control their costs, including using an energy storage system and charging at times of low electricity prices. Fleet owners should analyze their local utility tariffs and existing energy supply agreements in order to optimize charging patterns. To operate in a cost-efficient manner, fleets of vehicles can be charged during non-peak hours at a lower rate and would benefit from the use of automated charge-scheduling software to enhance charging patterns.

Visit for more about ABB Electrification solutions for the future of emissions-free transportation.

[1] Report by The Climate Group

[2] Report by BloombergNEF

[3] Report by McKinsey

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About the author

Danel Turk

I work as Data Center and e-Mobility segment leader within the Distribution Solutions business. I joined ABB more than 17 years ago where I have worked to develop and maintan the broad ABB portfolio for new industrial segments. It is my current aim to position and support Distribution Solutions product and solutions sales into dedicated segments.
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