Fleet Owners Just Want More EV Charging Stations, Not The Moon

Fleet owners that represent more than 2.5 million vehicles on the road and claim more than $1.1 trillion in annual revenue figure they should have some say in the matter of building out the national EV charging network here in the US, and they have a lot to say. A collective of 31 leading fleets and 2,000 individual fleet managers have combined forces to aim their firepower at a strategy that will help launch a new wave of EV adoption — if all goes according to plan, that is.

EV Charging In The US: They Write Letters

The new push for EV charging station build-out comes under the umbrella of the green nonprofit organization Ceres, which has organized 31 leading fleet operators and other companies into the Ceres Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance. The list includes familiar names like Amazon, Best Buy, DHL, and Hertz, along with Otis, which is better known for its activity in the elevator area.

Rounding out the roster are ADT, American Airlines, AT&T, CBRE, Centrica, Clif Bar, Consumers Energy, Edison International, Exelon, Genentech, Heritage, Ikea, JLL, Lease Plan, Lime, Lyft, Merchants Fleet, National Grid, Schindler, Siemens, States Logistics, Uber, Unifi, and Verizon.

Earlier this week, Ceres enlisted the Alliance, along with the 2,000 members of the NAFA Fleet Management Association, to take their case for EV charging to the Federal Highway Administration.

In a letter to FHA Deputy Administrator Stephanie Pollack, the collective explained that despite their disparate areas of operation, they all have the same goal of accelerating the build-out of the national EV charging station network.

“Our Goals Alliance members share a common goal of electrifying their U.S. transportation, logistics, and networked fleets, as well as reducing their transportation emissions footprint and are actively working to transition to electric vehicles (EVs),” they wrote. “In fact, over the next five years Alliance members plan to collectively procure more than 330,000 zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) in the U.S. market alone.”

“NAFA members support the accelerated transition to EVs as a critical part of the strategy for sustainability and the reduction of vehicle emissions,” they added.

Show Me The Money… For EV Charging Stations

The timing of the letter is meant to draw attention to the pot of funding for EV charging station build-out in the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law of 2021, aka the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act.

As described by the White House, a total of $7.5 billion will go to deploy new public EV charging stations along highway corridors, with the aim of encouraging EV adoption among drivers who travel longer distances.

The funds are also available for public EV charging stations “within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop.”

Of particular interest to the Ceres collective is a $5 billion pot earmarked for states to manage, under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program.

“This investment will support the President’s goal of building a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers to accelerate the adoption of EVs, reduce emissions, improve air quality, and create good-paying jobs across the country,” the White House enthuses.

Carving Out Space For Fleet EV Charging

That’s all well and good, but the Alliance and NAFA are leaving nothing to chance. In the embargoed letter to FHA (obtained in advance by CleanTechnica), Ceres underscored the need for states to ensure that EV charging stations fit the needs of fleet vehicles.

Ceres cited an Alliance survey showing that workplace and at-home EV charging will accommodate much of the growing need, but there will still be a substantial gap unless more public, on-road charging stations are available.

The survey found that 26% of fleet EV charging is expected to take place at fleet depots and 42% at employee homes, leaving a gap of 32% to be filled.

In particular, Ceres underscored the need to accommodate regional and long-haul freight operations, as well as movement within urban, suburban and rural communities.

“The availability of strategically placed, cost-effective, and interoperable public EV charging infrastructure is essential for trips that take commercial and other fleet operators substantial distances from their fleet depots or homes,” Ceres emphasized.

What Exactly Do They Want?

As for specifics, the Ceres collective is not asking for anything particularly dramatic. They propose building on the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Initiative with the following points in consideration:

  • EV charging stations should be strategically and equitably sited to support the largest possible number of commercial vehicles.
  • Sufficient charging should be placed near densely populated and/or urban areas.
  • EV charging stations capable of servicing light-duty vehicles (LDVs) should be placed at least every 50 miles.
  • EV charging stations capable of servicing commercial medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs) should be sited based on commercial traffic/goods movement patterns.
  • Where charging stations cannot be sited on certain segments of an Interstate Highway, they should be placed as close to the right-of-way as possible.

The letter also raises a couple of suggestions aimed particularly at preventing conflict between light-and medium-duty drivers at charging stations, as well as making space for the kind of on-road amenities often found at truck stops and other full-service stations:

  • Where charging stations capable of charging LDVs and MHDVs are co-located, separate charging areas should be designated for each vehicle type to ensure accessibility and operational efficiency for commercial vehicles.
  • EV charging stations should be sited near existing or new amenities (e.g., travel centers, truck stops) that users can access while charging (e.g., restaurants, bathrooms, indoor convening spaces etc.). Priority amenities should be accessible 24/7.

A quick look at the Energy Department’s efforts in the area of separate electric vehicle stations indicates that careful engineering is needed to prevent system overload while ensuring stability and reliability.

With that in mind, Ceres calls for states to consider EV market growth in their planning, especially regarding the future impact on space requirements and the electricity grid.

“States should also strongly consider additional and complementary EV charging proposals from authorized commercial fleet operators (who operate within or across the state) that enable deployment of EV charging stations for semi- private commercial fleet use,” Ceres adds.

What If They Made An EV Charging Station & Nobody Came?

Of course, no mention of fleet electrification and state policy would be complete without a mention of the torrent of new state-based restrictions on abortion services, consequent on last month’s US Supreme Court ruling by the 6-3 Republican-appointed majority of Justices currently on the bench.

The new restrictions come at a particularly fraught time for fleet owners and managers in the US, especially in the interstate and longer-distance trucking areas. Employers are already dealing with a looming labor shortage as their mostly male workforce ages out. Some have been turning to gender diversity as a solution, and the organization Women in Trucking has been a strong advocate for gender diversity as a matter of federal policy.

Good luck with that. Now that constitutional protections for abortion services have been thrown out the window, driving while pregnant will be a risky experience for any uterus-enabled driver who crosses an anti-abortion state.

The possibility that essential medical care will be delayed or denied altogether if a pregnancy complication arises on the road is now a fact of life, not a fantastical vision of a dystopian future, regardless of what comes out of your tailpipe.

Follow me on Twitter @TinaMCasey.

Photo: EV charging station system courtesy of US Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.


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