When it comes to charging, most people probably put it all in two buckets: overnight charging and charging on longer trips. For people who don’t drive too much, a simple Level 1 trickle charging arrangement using a normal wall plug is usually enough. For people who want more flexibility or who drive more, it makes sense to get a faster Level 2 charger that pulls power from a 240V circuit, like a dryer or water heater. Neither of these arrangements really need to be complicated, because it’s usually one person using them for one car.
Where we accept the need for more complexity is away from home. At fast charging stations, there’s a need to bill you for your electricity, and there’s a need to update you on your charge via the app (so you can check on things if you walk away to use the restroom and eat). Even for Level 2 charging at places you’d be for a while (grocery stores, movie theaters, etc.), these same services are often needed. Software has important jobs to do away from home, in other words.
But that’s just for our personally owned vehicles. When defining a vehicle’s “home” becomes a more complicated question, some of those same complexities of shared public chargers comes along for the ride. In some cases, a company’s vehicles live on the company’s property at night. In other cases, the vehicles go home with people who work for the company. In other cases, a vehicle could be used on multiple shifts, getting a chance to charge only when nobody needs it.
On top of that complexity is that fact that companies might need a much broader variety of EVs. Medium- and heavy-duty trucks, for example, need much faster charging if they have large battery packs. Police vehicles might be needed for two shifts, or even three, in the course of a day. Some vehicles need to be available 24 hours on short notice for emergencies, too.
So, charging these vehicles requires a solution that’s more thought out than just a plug hanging up that you can pop into a vehicle at the end of the day. ChargePoint has worked with a good number of fleets, and the company has figured out how to turn both corporate experiences and client experiences into better software. It works for both mixed fuel and all-electric fleets, and ChargePoint says it can streamline fleet operations as well as lower total cost of fleet ownership, easing the transition to electric mobility.
This new comprehensive fleet platform includes three core software solutions: charging station management, vehicle telematics, and mobility services like over-the-road session reimbursement and roaming. These integrated solutions provide fleet managers with end-to-end capabilities, resulting in reduced cost of ownership via better monitoring. The company also says that whether implemented as a complete package or as individual solutions, this suite empowers fleet managers to efficiently oversee their operations while ensuring optimal performance.
“We understand the concern fleet operators have over the investment needed to transition fleets from liquid fuel to electric, including the cost of the infrastructure needed to charge EVs,” said Michael Hughes, Chief Revenue Officer at ChargePoint. “By bringing a wide scope of fleet management applications under one platform, we are helping fleet operators identify and realize significant savings to their total cost of ownership. This software gives them better control over and visibility into their fleet operations, as well as the ability to decrease operating expenses over the ownership cycle.”
Regardless of which vehicles a fleet uses, ChargePoint’s software can do the following:
- Automate schedules (especially for time of use EV charging rates)
- Optimize routes
- Track and provide insights for each individual fleet location
- Improve site-level visibility on screen
- Track metrics for ESG initiatives and goals
- Provide real-time alerts for charging station uptime
- Advance energy management tools to maximize EV fuel savings.
ChargePoint’s fleet management suite integrates seamlessly with existing tools used by fleet operators, such as telematics and maintenance systems, so fleet operators can get all of the data in one place. If a fleet doesn’t already have a telematic solution, the suite offers purpose-built telematics capabilities for electric vehicles, providing valuable insights into battery health, vehicle state of charge, and overall fleet performance. Fleet managers can leverage EV-specific features, including real-time vehicle location tracking and proactive issue detection through battery telematics, enabling better state-of-health monitoring for each vehicle.
Its capabilities go beyond the fleet’s yard or driver’s garages. The software can follow fleet vehicles and drivers wherever they go, even across continents, with seamless mobile integration. This can happen in the ChargePoint app, or via other apps that can take advantage of the ChargePoint APIs. This gives drivers across North America and Europe access to over 750,000 charging ports on the ChargePoint network, as well as for payment through integrations with fuel card providers. For take-home fleets, the platform enables reimbursement of electricity dispensed at home, too, allowing for easy tracking of costs.
What’s Great About This
We often argue that EVs are good enough to do any job that an ICE vehicle can do. For EV enthusiasts and people who want to accelerate EV adoption, that approach has made a lot of sense in the past, because people are often skeptical of new things. So, the goal has been to convince people that they wouldn’t lose out.
But one thing that can get lost in the mix of getting people to go EV is to explain the advantages. For fuel price, we’ve been saying for a long time that EVs are a good way to save money, especially for high-utilization vehicles. Maintenance is also a lot lower. But ChargePoint is finding that there are other advantages to an electric or even a mixed fleet, especially when it comes to management.
Instead of giving drivers a gas card or telling them that you’ll pay them back for miles driven, ChargePoint enables automatic tracking of home charging for take-home fleets, and that means less wasted time going to gas pumps.
Featured image provided by ChargePoint.
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