EV charging infrastructure explained: strategy & problems

posted on 06/07/2023
  • Overview
  • Understanding charging infrastructure
  • How Alphabet can help

Transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs) isn't just about selecting new models for your fleet. It's also about implementing a new operational approach to keep those vehicles running smoothly, especially relating to charging.

There are three key locations where your fleet's EVs might be charged: at the workplace, at home, and on-the-go at public charging stations. Each location comes with its own considerations and challenges. In this article, we'll unpack what you need to know about EV charging infrastructure, explore the options available for home and work charging, and discuss strategies for on-the-go charging. 

Understanding charging infrastructure: What will you need?

1. Workplace charging

Workplace charging can significantly encourage EV adoption amongst your drivers, as it provides essential infrastructure for shared and depot-based fleets, allowing your employees to charge where they park. There’s a lot to take into account and calling upon the expertise of a charging supplier will ensure all the bases are covered. Things to consider include:

Where should you place your charge points?

A charging point should be off-street, secure and well-lit, and reserved for vehicles from your business. If you already have a power supply available, using space around this for charge points can reduce the hassle and costs of installation.

Wall-mounted units are typically cheaper and simpler to install than posts, however, these come with restrictions on placement.

How many charge points will you need?

The number of charge points you need will vary based on factors such as:

•    The number of EV-driving employees

•    Whether you plan to reserve charge spaces for particular employees (or only those with company cars) or allow all employees to use them

•    How employees use your office (e.g. as a full-time working base, or as a stop-off point between journeys)

•    Timing of demand (e.g. do all employees arrive and leave at a similar time, or is their presence, and therefore charge demand, spread out during the day/week)

With EV and PHEV adoption increasing it’s worth planning for slightly more charge points than you may need now in order to future-proof your setup. 

What kind of chargers should you use?

Choosing the right EV charging point is crucial. Your infrastructure should be tailored to suit your fleet's needs, considering aspects including charging speed, connectivity, and power rating. 

If most of your EV-driving employees drop in for a quick turnaround, a 22kW or even 150kW rapid charger may be the best option. On the other hand, if the EVs are likely to sit idle most of the day (e.g. while employees work within a nearby office) then you’re probably better off considering a slower-charging but lower-cost option, for example a Type 2.7kW charger. 

How will employees access the chargers?

Most manufacturers offer the option of charge points which require a key or RFID to access. This allows you to restrict their use to a selected group of employees, to track usage across your fleet, and to use the chargers as a potential income stream by allowing employees to pay to charge personal vehicles. 

2. Home charging

Most EV charging happens at home. It's a convenient solution which allows drivers to charge their vehicles overnight and start each day with a full battery, and allows access to much cheaper kWh rates than are typically available from public chargers. A dedicated home charging station or a standard electrical outlet can be used for this purpose.

Advancements are continuing to broaden the types of charge points on offer and experts can guide you through the options even if you don’t have off-street parking. They can also advise on the potential grants available to those who are landlords or those who are renting a property.  It’s always best to seek professional advice.

Things to consider include:

Self-funded or work benefit?

If you don’t have space for a workplace charge setup, or if you have EV-driving employees who can’t use a workplace charge location easily, it may be worth considering partially or fully funding the installation of home charge units.

This doesn’t currently count as a taxable benefit, so doesn’t come with a tax burden for the employee. For employees with a private EV, this is still possible however the cost of electricity is taxable as a benefit-in-kind.

Who will cover the electricity costs?

You should consider if your employees need to cover the charge costs themselves (receiving only the charging point installation as a perk) or will you provide a policy for them to claim back some/all of their work-related charges?

How will you manage maintenance, inspections and removal?

Once installed it’s important to plan for regular maintenance/inspections to ensure the charge point remains safe and in good working order. You also need to have a plan for what to do when an employee leaves the company or moves home. This can add to your administrative burden, so find out whether your potential suppliers offer these as a service.

3. Public charging

Public charging offers valuable support to drivers while on the move. These facilities range from public charging stations and fast-charging networks to destination charging options at locations like hotels and shopping centres.

Things to consider include:

Where will my drivers be?

Although the public charging network has doubled in size since 2020, there is still significant variation across the UK. 30% of the UK’s charge points are within Greater London but only 3% in Wales!

To avoid this causing problems, encourage your drivers to use route planning tools/apps to identify convenient charge stops before they set off.

Will charging downtime effect efficiency?

Rapid charge points can provide a full battery in as little as 30 minutes, but aren’t always available (or advisable, since repeated fast charging can reduce battery performance and life).

Thus, it’s likely that relying on public charging alone will mean some journey downtime for your EV drivers. Good planning can avoid this impacting productivity since the driver can leave their vehicle to charge while they take a comfort or food break.

How will we manage charging expenses?

Just as with petrol/diesel stations, charge points in the UK are run by a variety of different suppliers with different payment methods. It’s almost always possible to pay by credit card, however, usually you’ll get better rates if drivers use a charge card tied to one or more provider (on a subscription and/or pay-as-you-go basis).

For those people managing a fleet this approach (just as with ICE fuel cards) means it’s simple to consolidate charging costs into a single regular invoice and remove the administrative burden of managing these expenses.

Get in touch with our expert team today on 01252 976 010 and discover how we can help you create a robust, efficient, and reliable charging strategy for your business.

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