1. Anticipate the duration of the project & set up a timeline
Rome wasn't built in a day. Fleet electrification is a project that requires planning, financial and human resources, as well as the purchase of equipment in high demand.
As a first step, it is important to establish a realistic timeline to avoid unpleasant surprises. It is not uncommon for a first electrification project to take one to two years before the first vehicles can be operated and charged. The waiting period for vehicles and charging stations, the request for connection to Hydro-Québec (if applicable) and the schedule for the installation of the charging stations are particularly important to monitor, as they are the main reasons for delays in electrification projects.
2. Bring together project stakeholders
It is important to start building relationships with key resources early on. Assembling an in-house project team, or hiring a specialized electrical consultant or contractor is necessary in virtually all electrification projects.
It is also necessary to select a qualified master electrician, identify the right contact at Hydro-Québec to submit the project (if applicable), and approach certain vehicle and charging station manufacturers. In some cases, the civil engineering or building maintenance team must also be invited to the discussions surrounding the charging station implementation project. Finally, consulting drivers about upcoming changes in operations should also be done early in the process.
3. Perform energy needs analysis (determine kWh and kW required)
Any properly executed electrification project begins with a rigorous collection of vehicle usage data. This data allows for the accurate determination of the size of the vehicle batteries to be retained, as well as the power required for the charging stations.
This data collection can be done manually, but it is highly recommended to invest in an advanced telematics system, especially since it will be almost essential once the electric transition is in effect.
The basic data are the statistical distribution of daily mileage, the trips, their duration and steepness, the stops, and the auxiliary loads required by the vehicle accessories.
4. Gather information on incentives
This phase consists of learning more about the grants that may be applicable to your project. The different programs have their own particularities, can be combined according to certain conditions, and sometimes have deadlines that must be matched with your project.
5. Think about the long-term strategy
When planning the first deployment of vehicles and charging stations in your organization, it is important to think about the long-term strategy. Vehicles can be gradually replaced by type, by users or by primary location of operation. If there are expansion plans for the building(s), it is useful to have a long-term charging strategy in mind.
The entire transition could take several years or even a decade. For example, gasoline-powered vehicles can be used for the initial phases of deployment to meet extreme atypical needs.
The long-term strategy also includes planning for the development of the parking lot in anticipation of the installation of multiple stations. Considerations related to the movement of several vehicles at the same time in the parking lot or related to snow removal must be taken into account. Tips are presented in Hydro-Québec's Charging Guide for Electric Vehicle Fleets (French only).
6. Select the charging stations
The next step is to select the charging stations, the management software (if applicable), and the equipment and service providers. It is advisable to install the appropriate charging infrastructure for the deployment of the first phase of vehicles only, but to still plan for subsequent phases (conducts, sufficiently large electrical room, parking configuration, etc.).
Oversizing the charging infrastructure by opting for more power than necessary will be very expensive to purchase, install and operate. Consider the smallest power option that meets your needs.
7. Select the vehicles
Commercial EVs typically offer several range options. Some have fast charging as an option, while others have Level 2 charging as an option. At this stage, it is important to make sure that you choose the right equipment and avoid paying unnecessarily for vehicles with too large batteries, which are more polluting to manufacture and more energy consuming.
8. Calculate costs
As with any large-scale corporate project, costing is essential. In the case of fleet management, the most widely used metric is the total cost of ownership (TCO). Several examples of TCO calculations for EVs are available online. It is important to ensure that the vehicles and their charging stations will become cost-effective before their scheduled replacement date, which is usually the case.
9. Prepare the service entrance and the lot (existing or new)
Planning the parking lot layout, service entrance and excavation planning (if applicable) is a step that should not be underestimated. Typically, in a corporate context, many stakeholders must give their approval for the charging station deployment plan. Note that the installation of fast charging stations in winter is very difficult and should be avoided whenever possible.
Finally, the charging stations and vehicles are delivered! It is advisable to put the equipment into service progressively, until it is fully included in operations as planned. Therefore, an internal pilot project of a few months to validate the performance and carefully monitor the equipment is recommended. This could teach you a lot and help you plan future EV purchases.
Organizing an event to inaugurate the new vehicles and charging stations involving all the drivers and stakeholders in the project can also be an advantageous strategy in many ways.