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Which commercial electric car charger is best for your business?

March 9, 2022 | Wesley van Barlingen and Callum Biggins

With an estimated 130 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by 2030, a steadily growing interest from consumers, pledges from major car manufacturers to produce all-electric vehicles, and the commitment of 30 national governments to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles altogether, one this has become abundantly clear; electric mobility is becoming the new norm.

As a result, businesses all over the world are adapting to this new reality in some shape or form. Of course, there is no one way of going about it; some electrify their fleets to become more sustainable, others offer electric car charging facilities to satisfy their electric-driving employees, and others leverage electric car charging to increase their revenue directly. 

But no matter how your business aims to use commercial charging stations in the future, there is a lot to consider before investing. This article is written to help you understand what your business should ask itself to identify which electric car charger and functionalities match the needs of your business best.

How to know which electric car charging station fits your business’ needs best?

Just like many different electric car models on the market, there are many different types of charging points too. In a nutshell, electric car chargers use either AC or DC current, have a range of smart charging features, and can be connected to intelligent charging management software.

Simply going for the fastest or even the most advanced charging station may not necessarily mean it’s the right fit for your business. To find the right electric car charging station for your business, it’s best to look at the needs and wants of your business first, and take it from there. 

The good news is that there are electric car charging solutions available for every type of business. So, how do you know which solution is right for your organisation? To help put things into perspective, we’ve listed seven must-ask questions.

A young man using an EVBox EV charging station on a sunny day.

1. How important is speed for your commercial electric car charger?

Generally speaking, charging an electric car can take between 1 and 20 hours with AC, and between 7 minutes and 2 hours with DC charging. If you take these states at face value, the fastest option probably sounds the best, but this isn’t necessarily the case. 

The charging speed you would like to offer should match the needs and offering of your business, and these can differ greatly. To illustrate this point, we’ve listed a few electric car charging business model examples below.

Workplace

Electric-driving employees love to be able to charge their vehicles whilst they work, and who wouldn’t? It’s super convenient; driving to the office, park, work, and driving home with a full battery. But how important is the charging speed in this case? 

A typical workday of around 8 hours is often more than enough time for charging points to recharge the battery of most vehicles. So, in this case, it would make more sense to invest in Level 2 charging stations, instead of opting for high-powered fast charging stations that are capable of charging within minutes.

Fleet

If your business operates a fleet that affects the success of your daily operations, such as transportation or last-mile delivery companies, charging speed will probably rank a lot higher on the list of priorities. You want those batteries charged quickly so your vehicles can stay on the road. 

In this case, fast-charging points will help minimise vehicle downtime and avoid any potential revenue loss. However, if your fleet can make their daily rounds on a single charge and can charge overnight, this changes things.

A fleet depot filled with light commercial vehicles of the same company.

Hospitality

Hotels and fine-dining restaurants are designed for guests to enjoy their time and take it easy. You can imagine that the ideal electric car charging point for hospitality businesses won’t have to deliver ultra-fast charging speeds. In fact, a guest waiting for their car to fully charge might just order that extra cup of coffee or decide to stay longer for dessert. 

On the other hand, establishments located near motorways or fast-food restaurants could use DC fast charging points to attract customers who are looking to top-off their batteries mid-journey. A fast-charging break can be a great opportunity to have a cheeseburger and fries before hitting the road again.

Retail

Shopping centres or big warehouses can use the time it takes to charge to increase the time customers spend at their location. While supermarkets and convenience stores can attract customers by offering an ultra-fast top-off as they shop. 

Of course, these are just a few examples. The bottom line is that commercial charging points can deliver different speeds, and the charging station your business opts for should be aligned with your business strategy.

A woman connecting her car to a public EV charging station in a city centre street filled with high-end shops.

2. Do you want to set charging fees? 

More and more businesses are now seizing the opportunity to use electric car charging points as a method to increase revenue. Think of it like this, your car park used to be a space for your customers and visitors to park their car while they visit your establishment. Now, electric mobility creates new opportunities for you to monetise that space and grow your business

On the other hand, businesses such as retail and hospitality locations can choose to offer charging as a service (or set lower fees) to increase the time customers spend at their establishment, and, in doing so, have more upselling opportunities.

You could, of course, also offer charging facilities as a complementary service. Charging at the workplace, for example, offers a convenience that boosts employee satisfaction and can even help attract talent

A close-up image of a hand holding a key-fob next to an EVBox business line EV charging station to start a charging session.

3. How will your charging needs evolve in the future?

The amount of people transitioning to electric mobility has grown tremendously over the past few years. When the odd-colleague or acquaintance drove an electric car a few years ago, it was still more of a rare sight. Today electric cars are everywhere, and during the next decade the switch to electric mobility will only grow further. So, when considering investing in commercial charging stations, it’s important to think about the long run. 

As the technology continues to evolve, so will the needs of the drivers. An acceptable charging time today may become unacceptable in a few years. As technological developments are enhancing electric cars and their batteries, it is important to think about scalability from the get-go. 

Maybe you could offer a slower charging speed today, but have the ability to increase it when needed. Or, perhaps you want to start off with one charging point, but already think about where to place additional charging points in the future.

4. Do you need charging management software?

Many businesses view EV charging stations as a piece of necessary hardware that you need to charge an electric car. However, most charging stations are a lot more advanced than that. By connecting your charging station to a software management system, your business can benefit greatly. 

For example, you can gain unique insights into the charging behaviour of drivers, control card or fee management, and optimise energy efficiency to reduce cost. To do this, you need a suitable charging management software to connect your electric car charging stations with. We, of course, have our own, but what’s really important for your business is to opt for a charging station and software system that is OCPP compliant.

A mock-up visual of a laptop and a smartphone showing electric car management software.

What is OCPP and why is it important?

OCPP is an open-source communication standard for both electric car charging stations and software systems. The abbreviation stands for ‘Open Charge Point Protocol’. In layman’s terms, this means that when stations and software are OCPP-compliant, they can connect, even if they’re created by different companies. 

Investing in hardware that can only work with the manufacturer’s software (or vice-versa) will limit your options drastically. What if you want to connect your stations to an existing software system already in place, or if you want to switch to a more efficient system in the future? OCPP-compliance doesn’t prevent you from working with the manufacturer's software, but it gives you the freedom to choose should you need to adapt to whatever situation arises in the future.

5. What are the requirements or limitations of your specific location?

After figuring out which type of electric car charging station would be ideal for your business, and how many you aim to install, it’s important to consider the possibilities and limitations of your location. 

Depending on your situation, site owners and/or local authorities may have to be involved regarding matters such as permits and zoning requirements. No matter the type of charging station you wish to install, it is always advisable to see if there are any potential stakeholders that need to be involved, and, if so, involve them as early on in the process as possible to avoid any additional costs or delays.

If you operate multiple sites, it’s best to treat each location as a separate project and map out the possibilities and specific requirements separately.

An installer installing an EV charging station on site.

6. Can you benefit from government incentives?

Governments around the world are prioritising installation of sufficient charging infrastructure, so there is a chance your business can benefit from some sort of incentive. For example, in the UK, the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) offers a grant of 75% off the purchase and installation of a single EV charging point, capped at a maximum £350 up to 40 sockets. Elsewhere in the world, many other countries have also launched incentives to support the growth of electric car charging infrastructure, making it more attractive for your business to invest in electric car charging today.

7. What about after the purchase?

Investing in electric car charging stations can be a hefty investment, so it is a good idea to consider what happens after the purchase. Of course, you expect your charging stations to be operational at all times and you want to optimise the lifespan to protect (or even increase) ROI. 

So when investing, check what the standard of warranty is (and find out if you can extend it). In some cases, electric car charging station companies have a complete care plan available. If this isn’t the case, it’s advisable to see if any other additional services—such as commissioning, support, and maintenance—are offered.

A business meeting where a consultant explains how an EV charging station works.

The switch to electric mobility is inevitable, and businesses all over the world will adapt their operations to thrive in a new and more sustainable tomorrow. If your business is thinking about placing commercial electric car charging stations in the near future, it is advisable to invest in a charging solution that works best for your business and will set you up for the long run.

We hope that by answering these seven questions you will have a much better idea of what EV charger your business should be looking for.

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