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EV EXPERT: How understanding and planning for YOUR move to electric taxis can give you an advantage

Image credits : LEVC / The Connect Consultancy

As we come to the end of another year, despite a new virus variant ‘Omicron’ causing headlines, there remains some optimism for an end to the worst consequences of the COVID- 19 pandemic.

The effects of the COVID pandemic still prevail across urban mobility, with driver shortages and trying to keep up with the increased festive period demand, mobility providers continue to recover and adapt to changes.

In late October London expanded the ULEZ over 140 miles between the north and south circular roads and as we see in the new year - expect 2022 to see many more CAZ’s going live to add to those already rolled out across the UK.

Faced with daily penalty charges for entering CAZ’s with non-compliant vehicles, and a looming ban on new fossil fuel car sales in 2030, many of you may well now be calculating when to switch to EVs.

On top of this, in the last 3 months we’ve seen fuel shortages, causing long queues at petrol stations, and these have since been replaced by record pump prices.

So that’s how it feels?

There was an irony in the short-lived fuel shortage - as ICE vehicle owners desperate for fuel, experienced a form of ‘range anxiety’ - a phenomenon normally familiar to EV drivers with limited range and a lack of available places to charge.

As fuel dried up at petrol stations, ICE drivers experienced similar feelings to EV drivers low on range and searched for alternatives, which resulted in a massive 1,500% spike in web searches for electric cars.

Expect this to be a trend that will continue. As more and more drivers become conscious of EV’s ever- evolving market penetration, viability and total cost of ownership (TCO) benefits.

Almost every major car manufacturer is now committed to electrifying their product portfolio and incorporating numerous new electric car ranges - with improved range capabilities and at more affordable prices.

Are you able to charge an EV at home - or not?

The suitability of EVs for daily public services such as taxi and private hire continue to provide challenges for those faced with the prospect of having to shift to electric.

Especially professional drivers - who will need to top up their batteries before, and/or during each shift.

Some fleets and drivers may be more dependent on either the workplace or public chargers outside of their home and this exposes an inequality in running costs. Let’s look at some hypothetical examples on home charging for the purposes of this article:

The cost: If you still rely on fossil fuel

To set an existing cost benchmark, filling an existing diesel car capable of c.50mpg to cover a daily mileage of 220 miles at £1.50 per litre for diesel would be c.£25.00.

Averaging 220 miles a day, 6 days a week over 48 weeks, with fuel at £150.00 per week is around £7,200.00 per year.

Home-charging: How much does it cost?

A major advantage of EV ownership is the ability to charge while parked - and especially when parked at home and over-night.

This also allows making use of Time-Of- Use (TOU) energy tariffs which are mainly designed for EV owners to charge up at low peak times of energy demand.

These afford really low prices of c.£0.05p per kWh - during the low peak period which is typically between 12- 30am to 5am.

A new opportunity to minimise running costs

The shift to electric brings with it a great opportunity to minimise running costs. It is especially suited to most commuter drivers and some business drivers.

The 4–5-hour low tariff (TOU) window allows topping up around 100 miles of range using a 7kW supply and charger for a cost of just c.£1.50 - most urban drivers won’t even need to do this every night... it might only be a weekly or fortnightly event.

It’s not surprising most EV drivers would never think of going back to ICE, even before factoring in zero road tax, no CAZ charges and minimal maintenance costs.

Daily professional requirements

Taxi / PH drivers do not have the luxury of charging ad hoc but need a nightly extended charge which is longer than this cheap tariff window allows for making over 200 miles range available - and required - for the next day.

Notwithstanding the fact that LEVC hackney cabs require the back-up use of a fossil-fuel range- extender to achieve over 200 miles on a single charge, it is wise to plan ahead as it is no foregone conclusion that range extenders will continue to go unregulated within clean air zones.

For professional drivers with vehicles capable of doing a complete shift on a full battery, charging is something intrinsic and required to be replicated every night. So, doubling the charging TOU time is far more likely - as most of you will cover more than 200 miles in a day. This means stepping outside of the TOU low-peak tariffs available, to complete each charge for the day ahead.

So, we have to factor in a peak time tariff of c.£0.20p per kWh (using a fast home smart charger charging at 7kWh) for an additional 4-1/2 hours which would mean an increased tariff period and cost of c.£6.30 to be added to the low peak TOU tariff total of £1.50 in order to have 200 miles range available for the next day.

This means around £7.80 per day for an EV Cab capable of over 200 miles electric range, this is achieved by charging at home and combining a low- rate time-of-use (TOU) tariff - together with an equal amount of peak time electricity to fulfil most daily needs of over 200 miles.

No private home parking?

Of course, this is all well and good if you have private off-road parking and charging available, but if not then things are not quite so straightforward in practice.

Two EV drivers with identical EVs - One can charge at home and the other cannot.

To account for two energy users requiring the use of their vehicles for business each day, both use the same vehicle with same size battery and efficiency and both drives exactly the same number of miles per year.

The one with access to a domestic ChargePoint will pay - based on the mixed energy tariffs previously outlined and averaging 220 miles a day, 6 days a week over 48 weeks energy @ £7.80 per day - £46.80 per week or £2,246 per year. And this is achieved with the convenience of charging at home, while sleeping.

The one without private home parking has three options:

Fast Street Charging - This is dependent on charger locations and their availability.

The charging speed is generally the same as home @7kWh. Costing c.£0.25p per kWh (and assuming they can find an available, convenient street charger 6 nights a week!).

This would work out costing around £16.00 to top up enough for over a 200-mile shift - averaging 220 miles a day 6 days a week over 48 weeks with daily energy @ £16.00 - that’s £96.00 per week or £4,608 per year... So over double the cost of private home charging but still significantly less than diesel costs.

This option is currently undependable, due to the low numbers of street chargers from borough to borough, and whether they are convenient to use. They will likely require an App to access also. Street Charging infrastructure is about to hugely expand up to 2030 and beyond... (more on that in another article!).

Rapid DC Public Charging - This is the more likely option to fast street charging as it is far more established and growing exponentially now. But also means downloading a large assortment of ChargePoint operator (CPO) apps to gain access to some of the networks (some of these may also require subscriptions).

Planning will be important - to locate where suitable rapid chargers are convenient to needs - also availability is a concern at those times needed - due to the uptake of EVs. Typical costs are c.£0.40p per /kWh.

The speed of rapid DC chargers varies from 50kWh up to 350kWh with approximately 85% of the public network still being 50kWh - many EVs are still only capable of rapid charging up to 100kWh.

50kWh chargers typically add around 100 miles range in around 35 minutes. However, this is dependent on the size of the EV battery.

To fully charge an EV battery from below 20% up to 100% takes longer than expected. Batteries are designed to charge with a ramp-up in speed from zero range to 20% charge - and a ramp-

down in speed from 80% to full.

So, there’s a charging ‘sweet-spot’ in the middle - and this where optimum charging speed is attained - the time taken is variable as it is relevant to each vehicle's battery size.

Rapid public DC infrastructure will also mean factoring in dwell-time to charge each day, with added cost implications. The cost to rapidly charge an EV over 200 miles range is also over double that of fast street charging.

Again - averaging 220 miles a day 6 days a week over 48 weeks with daily energy @£0.40p per kWh - c.£25.00 - that’s £150.00 per week or £7,200 per year. So public rapid energy networks (used entirely) are virtually equivalent to an average diesel cost - but with added tax and CAZ benefits.

For Taxi and PH drivers, out-of-home charging means speed is so important where the EV cannot just be parked overnight. So, this is the most workable option when using public infrastructure. However, it is still a less than ideal solution to be relied on when using on a daily business basis because of increased

EV demand and charging reliability issues.

Workplace / Depot Charging - Fleets with depots and sufficient parking space, means workplace charging is an advantage. It allows more flexible charging options with the ability to plan a strategy to maximise both the vehicle usage and minimise energy costs.

Charging at work allows fleets to create innovative business models using a mixture of fast 7-22kWh AC chargers and / or rapid DC.

Being in control and privately managing the infrastructure also means chargers can be reserved and also makes it possible to double-shift EVs to maximise vehicle investments, profitability and overall ROI.

Additionally, decentralised renewable energy such as solar, with connected off-grid power generation using either alternative fuel as a back-up - such as used vegetable oil (UVO) or hydrogen fuel cells harnessed by battery storage, effectively means depots can become their own energy utility. Battery storage implementation can also greatly reduce overall building energy costs to add to the equation.

As fossil fuel and petrol stations are no longer a de facto requirement, a number of complex strategies are evolving around energy and mobility offering exciting opportunities to explore.

These involve vehicle choices, operations, energy deployment, charging infrastructure, connected renewable decentralised energy deployment, together with various attractive financed packages.

The need for companies to plan implementation of their own charging infrastructure is now here. The strategies to implement this can create new, green and profitable business models and present some fleets and drivers with excellent opportunities to capitalise on the transition and decarbonisation of both power and mobility.

Enabling a versatile, structured transition to EVs requires new thinking and fleet owners and managers need to be well-informed, trained, and resourced to turn what might seem major challenges into opportunities.

The risks of making the wrong decisions are huge and impact the bottom-line profits of your company and even your position in the market vs competitors.

We provide independent EV consultancy, encompassing end-end solutions and EV ChargePoint and connected renewable installations to help your business THRIVE during the transition to EVs.

Electric Vehicles and supporting infrastructure if properly planned are a more cost effective, green, and intelligent option... Can you afford not to investigate further?


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