Over the last decade, electric mobility has grown exponentially. According to IEA’s electric outlook report, there were 10 million electric cars on the world’s roads by the end of 2020. As electric vehicles become more common in both the consumer and business space, the need for fast and efficient charging solutions has never been higher. As a result, more and more forward-thinking businesses are investing in high-powered direct current (DC) charging stations, capable of fully charging vehicles within minutes.
Businesses of all shapes and sizes are seizing this opportunity to generate additional revenue or increase the productivity of their electric fleet by capturing the demand for fast charging.
To help you get the most out of fast charging for your business, here are seven useful tips before investing in DC charging stations.
1. Know your visitors
To accurately determine which DC charging station will fit your needs best, it is crucial to have a good understanding of your visitors:
Who visits your location?
How long do they stay?
What type of EVs are they driving?
If you own a restaurant or cinema—where people usually stay for a few hours—you may want to invest primarily in AC charging stations and add one or two DC fast charging stations for drivers who want to charge more quickly.
However, if you’re a business with shorter dwell times, like a petrol station or fast-food retailer, DC fast-charging stations could be a better option.
This tip applies regardless of whether you’re charging your customers' EVs or an electric fleet. Understanding how long an EV is staying (or can stay) at your location will help you to choose the right charging station with the right power output.
Put yourself in the shoes of the driver and understand their most-used routes. Ask yourself, “What is the maximum distance they would go out of their way to charge comfortably?”. Establishing a solid strategy based on your business's traffic, location, and average dwell time will help your EV charging business succeed.
2. Understand the ins and outs of your location(s)
Because of the complexity and high-power output, it is important to not apply a holistic approach to installing your fast (or ultra-fast) charging stations. If you have more than one location, treat each location as a separate project and map out the specific requirements and possibilities of each location.
Aside from the layout of your location(s), there are often different parties that need to be involved (such as site owners or local authorities) before a charging station can be installed. So, make sure you involve potential stakeholders early on in the process to avoid delays or additional costs.
3. Choose the right station architecture and power output
You can choose a standalone charging station, with all the necessary features combined into one or a split solution. Split solutions come with a sleek user unit that drivers interact with and a power unit that provides the energy for charging and is often hidden away from the driver's sight.
Additionally, you’ll want to ensure your DC charging stations have a scalable setup where you can easily upgrade your power output without heavy adjustments to the original installation. Modularity is key. Having a DC charging station with upgradable power modules means that you can grow your charging network on demand.
Just remember, you’ll likely need a partner to give you specific insights on what charging stations and power output are right for your business’s needs. The right partner will not only have oversight on your needs today but also know where the industry is heading.
This information can help you understand when the moment is right to enter the next phase of your charging strategy. In the electric mobility industry, there are a variety of companies that specialize in offering charging solutions that can include charging station management, installation, and maintenance.
4. Consider smart charging
Smart charging enables EVs, the grid, and charging stations to communicate with each other intelligently and, in doing so, optimize the flow of electricity based on specific needs or preferences. You should always find out what kind of EV smart charging features your chosen hardware can support.
For instance, smart charging features such as load balancing (effectively distributing power between charging stations) can help you get the most out of your location, avoiding costly grid updates and peak demands. In addition, offering simultaneous charging on a single station helps utilize your existing space.
5. Decide how charging sessions are initiated
Authorization, or in other words, how a charging session is initiated, is an important topic if you’re considering EV charging for your business.
If you need to charge a fleet of EVs, these options can differ from Autostart (the driver plugs in an EV and the charging session initiates automatically) to using RFID tokens (such as cards and key fobs).
On the other hand, if you want to offer charging to different customers at your location, you might want to include several different options since your goal is to make payments for your customers as flexible as possible; and there are many options out there.
You can choose from using RFID tokens, initiating charging from an app, or a more familiar version of authorization amongst the general public: a credit card reader.
6. Manage your charging network
Another topic to consider is charging management software (CMS). CMS helps to keep your network up, running, and accessible to EV drivers.
The biggest choice to make is whether you want a white-label option that can be tailored to your brand and customers, or CMS with a predefined brand and branch of software. With white-label options, you have more freedom and flexibility as you can define how the platform will look and behave.
Both branded and white-label CMS options will also allow you to maximize revenue by setting different charging tariffs, depending on variables such as the time of day or power requested; they also help you save costs by setting limitations on output during peak demand.
7. Look after your charging network
While DC charging stations are extremely useful for a variety of customers, drivers, and the global electric mobility industry, they are complex and do require maintenance by certified professionals. Therefore, to maximize the uptime of your DC charging stations, you need to think about maintenance and servicing.
It’s essential to understand whether your EV charging partner also provides maintenance services and care packages that tackle issues before they arise.
As you build a fast charging network, you'll want to ensure your EV charging stations are low maintenance and ready to go. But if and when unforeseen challenges arise, it’s nice to have a partner that acts fast and is willing to go the extra mile.
Our DC portfolio
EVBox provides a range of DC charging stations as part of our end-to-end electric vehicle charging solutions for businesses around the world. For a complete list of tech specs and use cases, as well as more information, take a look at our portfolio of DC charging stations designed for every business looking to electrify its operation.
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