How to efficiently electrify a last mile delivery fleet 

16 May 2021

We are in the midst of fleet electrification. On top of daily known projects, fleet managers are confronted with new challenges. We’d like to offer a guide on how to think clearly about them, to make the electric transition as efficient as possible. We subdivide the areas to consider in 4, namely: Vehicles, vehicle operation, charging points and depot.

"Electric vans" by TheClimateGroup is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
"Electric vans" by TheClimateGroup is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Vehicles 

The first thing to be clear about is what the vehicle’s electrification roadmap is. How fast will vehicles electrify? Will the number of vehicles increase in the future? 

Secondly, will it be the same vehicle model? This is important when considering vehicles WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure) fuel consumption, the onboard charger and their respective power level and if the onboard charger is bidirectional. The bidirectionality is important to earn extra revenue with the vehicle’s batteries and support the energy grid to be stable and green.

Quick checklist:

  • Number of vehicles (currently and expected in the future, 1 model or different ones)

  • Vehicles onboard charger (power level, is it bidirectional)

  • Theoretical (WLTP) fuel consumption

Vehicle operation 

The current and expected vehicle operation is the next focus area. 

How much time are vehicles on the road e.g. from 7 am to 7 pm except on Sunday. Do they drive non stop or is there a possibility/need for en route charging? Charging publicly will probably always be more expensive than private charging, so if possible it makes sense to avoid it. 

How much power is consumed by each vehicle or rather driver, given that the driving behavior (speed, accelerations and braking) has a major influence on fuel consumption. The weather as well as the distance travelled are key variables to take into account.

Finally, how is the route in general? Does the driver always come back to the same depot or does he change start and final location? 

Quick checklist:

  • Time on the road (non stop or possibility to do en route charging)

  • Power consumed by each vehicle / driver (depends on distance travelled, weather conditions and driving behavior)

  • Route (does the vehicle at the end of the day always come back to the same location or does the route change)

Charging points

Charging points, used to recharge the vehicle’s battery, can be private or public. Private charging points are at the depot and only used by the company’s own fleet. Public charging points are operated by external providers and open to anyone. Given higher power prices for public charging among other things, it is often preferable to install private charging points. Nevertheless, depending on the use case, public charging might be necessary for example when the final destination differs or when the daily route exceeds the battery range.

When choosing private charging points, AC 22 or 11 kW chargers are the most common ones, given its price to power ratio. Generally speaking, it makes most sense to install 1 charger per vehicle. With 11 kW and sufficient time parked at the depot a fleet can be recharged and even use its flexible times to save on charging costs. 22 kW would be even more interesting in terms of flexibility but costs are slightly higher.

Public charging has different power levels. Charging speed and prices increase with the power levels. In Germany for example, prices currently fluctuate between 40 and 80 euro cents per kWh. Also, the current charging infrastructure is still not very widespread, so having an analysis of installed charging points, as well as their availability in different time windows is important.

Quick checklist:

  • Private charging points (AC vs DC, power levels, number)

  • Public charging infrastructure (prices, installed, time availability)

Depot

The depot will need to be retrofitted with charging infrastructure. The depot’s required power level at its grid connection point will be increased. Space needs to be sufficient for the required charging points and possibly for cables and a transformer if the power level needs to be increased significantly. To make charging efficient, cost-wise and energy system wise, charging should be started and stopped according to the energy system’s needs while guaranteeing a full battery when the vehicles need to be used again. The flexibility potential of the fleet depends on the connection point power level, the existing load profile, the expected fleet power consumption and the time available to recharge. Significant cost reductions can be achieved and at the same time the fleet can play a crucial role in supporting a future 100 % renewable energy grid.

Quick checklist:

  • Connection point power (currently and expected given the use case’s needs) 

  • Space available (how much will be needed given the expected future needs?)

  • Existing power load profile (of other loads in the building)

  • Electricity tariff (how can it be reduced using the flexibility potential?)

All of these parameters should be analyzed with a data driven approach and the charging operation should work automatically in an efficient way. For this, RiDERgy is here to help. Do not hesitate to reach out to us.