Charging EV Fleets: What are the best chargers to use?

If you are a business, organization, commercial, government, or municipality that is making the switch from a polluting internal combustion engine (ICE) fleet to clean running electric vehicle (EV) fleet, welcome to the future!

When making the switch, there are obviously many things you need to consider. One of those things is to determine what percent of your fleet you plan to replace, and of that, how what percent will be electric?

You may find it easier to gradually introduce EVs and do a slow switch where you simply replace old ICE vehicles with new EVs, or you may find that it makes more economical sense to do the switch all at the same time.

The upfront costs of doing the switch at the same time will be more, but you’ll end up saving money on fuel and maintenance costs over the next several years. We encourage to run a Total Cost of Ownership Analysis to determine your true ROI, due to the rising costs of fuel and maintenance with the shortage of technicians, fleets are seeing quicker paybacks by transitioning to electric more than ever before.

The vehicles themselves aren’t the only thing you need to consider when switching to EVs.

When switching your fleet to EVs, you also need to think about what type of chargers you are going to use to keep their batteries full and keep them on the road. Reliability and Uptime is a key factor to consider.

Mix and Match

The EV chargers you purchase for your fleet will largely be decided by the size of your fleet, your hours of operation (dwell time), and your budget.

Most likely, you will want a mixture of direct current fast chargers (DCFCs), Level 2 chargers, and possibly a mobile charging unit that you can take to stranded fleet vehicles, if necessary.

Let’s take a look at these different types of chargers and why having a mixture of them is the best for most fleets.

(It’s important to note that the speed of charging depends not only on the charger you’re using, but the vehicles battery size and power input.

DCFCs

Unlike ICE vehicles, which you can fill up in a matter of seconds, EVs take time to charge.

The quickest way to charge an EV is with a DCFC, which can charge the battery in less than an hour depending upon the chargers output power.

Blink, for example, has the Blink 60kW – 360kW DCFCs that disperse 140 to 500 amps of power depending on the model you choose.

For smaller fleets, we have the Blink 30kW DC Fast Charger, which is a small footprint charging station that provides up to 100 amps and 1000 volts of output. It can be wall mounted or pedestal mounted and is much smaller in size than the larger DCFC options. Its great for high flooding areas as the charger is up off the ground.

If your budget allows for it and you need all your vehicles to be ready to go at all times, just purchasing DCFCs may be the right call for your fleet.

However, if just buying DCFCs is a little out of your budget, then you may consider buying one or two DCFCs and supplementing them with Level 2 chargers.

Level 2 Chargers

Level 2 chargers will fully charge a vehicle in a matter of hours. This makes them good for when your vehicles are sitting overnight or over the weekend or any other extended period of time.

DCFCs charge your vehicles when you need them to be charged immediately, while level 2 chargers can keep your fleet topped up when they’re not in use.

They generally cost less than DCFCs, which makes them better for budget conscious organizations. Many organizations overspec and don’t actually need a DCFC when their dwell times are overnight with plenty of time to charge.

Blink created the MQ 200 specifically for fleets. It has variable output of 12-50 amps and it can be paired with the Blink Fleet Portal, which is a management tool for keeping your vehicles charged and ready to work. Its intended for more behind the fence operations, cost effective, and up to 12kW of output.

We also have the IQ 200, which is the fastest Level 2 AC charging station available. It produces 80 amps of output and provides a typical EV with approximately 65 miles of charge in an hour. Its 19.2kW of output which his sufficient for the new Ford Lightning and Ford Mach-e’s available.

IQ-200-vs-MQ-200-vs-DCFC-Blink-Charging

Mobile chargers

Not every fleet is going to need a mobile charging unit, and it’s more of a back up solution than a necessity. If your fleet only serves a limited area and all vehicles are back in the parking lot at the end of the day, you will probably be fine without one.

However, if you think there is a chance that your vehicles may be caught “out in the wild” somewhere without enough juice to get back, then you may benefit from a mobile charging unit for emergencies.

If it’s something that only happens once in a while, then using a roadside assistance service is probably good enough. If this is a problem that occurs repeatedly, then buying your own emergency charger may end up saving you some money in the long run. The cost to tow fleet vehicles back to the depot is much more than a quick top off with our mobile charger, giving the vehicle enough battery to return to the nearest charger.

Ultimately, the best course of action is to make sure your fleet is always well-charged and any vehicles that are sent out have enough power to get to their destination and back (or are able to make it to a public charger somewhere).

With a mixture of DCFC and Level 2 chargers, your fleet vehicles should be powered up and ready to go when you need them. The last thing you want as a fleet is to start your shift and the vehicles battery is dead from not charging overnight, this is why having a strong network and uptime is critical for fleet applications.

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