Our experience working with a variety of electric vehicle fleets and Fleet Managers for more than 10 years has shown us that there are two fundamental rules of EV charging. These two rules apply regardless of the size of the fleet, the type of business, the type of electric vehicles in the fleet, or the type of chargers at the charging depot. Rule #1: Electric vehicles must be charged. Rule #2: Not everyone wants or needs to charge their electric vehicles the same way.
We have identified two distinct smart charging approaches for electric vehicle fleets: Semi-Level Load Charging; and Focused Charging. These are very distinct approaches to EV fleet charging, and your EV charging control platform needs to provide the flexibility for you to use either approach based on what works best for you.
Semi-Level Load Charging could be described as the Declaration of Independence approach – all electric vehicles and chargers are created equal. All chargers are powered at approximately the same level.
By contrast, Focused Charging is the Disney Fast Pass approach – all electric vehicles and chargers get juice, but some get to jump the line and get their juice first. Employing this approach lets the Fleet Manager identify those specific vehicles and chargers that take priority over the rest, charging at full power while lower-priority EVs wait their turn.
The Semi-Level Load Charging approach fits well for overnight charging depots where there isn’t an urgent need for most of the EVs to be charged. A perfect example would be a delivery fleet that charges overnight for deliveries that happen during the day. This approach works the same way if your fleet operates overnight and charges during the day. Another great match would be an office parking deck or apartment complex where no one electric vehicle takes priority over another. All connected vehicles receive the same amount of power.
With Focused Charging, higher priority vehicles in your electric fleet charge at full power while lower priority EVs wait their turn. This approach works best for customers that have vehicles that may be used differently and need to be charged in a particular order. A perfect fit for focused charging would be a fleet of shuttle buses for an airport rental lot. The Focused Charging approach directs power to those EVs that need to have a short turn-around time and must be charged immediately, leaving other less critical vehicles in the fleet to wait for later charging or charge simultaneously but at a reduced rate.
According to Oxford’s English dictionary, an algorithm is “a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.” We developed the EVauto smart charging platform around two algorithms – one that supports Semi-Level Load Charging and one that supports Focused Charging. The algorithms determine the power level for each charger based on pre-configured rules and setpoints determined in consultation with Fleet Operators and energy managers.
Old school thinking in the early days of EV fleet charging held that you were either Team Declaration or Team Fast Pass. You chose one charging approach and that was it. You did not mix the two. You did not cross the streams.
But we live in enlightened times. And we now have years of EV fleet charging experience, which has taught us that sometimes you have to blend these two charging approaches – because that is what best fits the charging needs of your fleet. Sometimes you have to cross the streams.
A flexible smart charging platform should give a Fleet Manager the option to combine these two fleet charging approaches at a single fleet location—for example, using a Focused approach during operating hours and a Semi-Level approach when the fleet is back at the depot. A truly flexible smart charging platform should give you the ability to apply multiple charging approaches simultaneously if your charging depot employs multiple types of chargers, enabling you to capitalize on the strengths and capabilities of each charger model.
EVauto charging control software incorporates both Semi-Level Load and Focused algorithms because that’s what our customers and our experience have shown us Fleet Managers need. Flexibility in operation is one of our guiding principles. Saving you money is another. Our proprietary algorithms operate to limit charging power in order to save money on electric utility bills and automatically manage power consumption for your entire fleet to reduce charging costs based on the single kW setpoint you establish.
Semi-Level Load Charging and Focused Charging are both valid operating approaches for your EV fleet, and which one you adopt – or how you blend the two approaches -- should reflect the real-world demands placed upon your electric vehicle fleet by internal and external stakeholders. Your choice of smart charging control platform should not require you to forgo one of these options. It should support both – separately and simultaneously – without sacrificing cost savings.
It all comes back to one of our guiding principles – in a changing EV fleet charging landscape, flexibility is the key.