Opinion: Jean-François Cheyns, founder of MobilityPlus
Switching to electric vehicles will considerably reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your fleet. But only if your entire team makes smart choices for the cheapest charging options. As their employer, this is primarily your responsibility. If you give everyone free rein, things can work out extremely expensive.
A charge card allows you to charge easily at public charge points at home and abroad. It might be hassle-free, but it’s certainly not free of charge. Charging at a public charge point can easily cost five times more than it does at work. Although the thought might not fill you with joy, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. You are paying for extra comfort and ultra-fast charging sessions that in many cases you don't even need.
Many EV sceptics and – unfortunately – many companies have not yet caught up with this idea. Or they don't really know how to avoid these expensive public charge points. For example, in some companies we note that employees are using their charge card rather like a fuel card. Battery almost flat? Head straight to the nearest public charge point. And this kind of behaviour drives up the costs, sometimes even until they exceed the former petrol or diesel costs of the fleet.
There’s more to public charging than you might think. Install the equipment and off you go? Not at all: various different parties ensure that you can charge quickly and comfortably on public roads. And of course they don’t do it for free.
For example, there are the charge point operators that install and maintain the public charging stations. They need to recoup their investments by selling electricity. The company therefore earns a margin on the actual electricity cost. This margin is highest with fast chargers, as these devices are simply a lot more expensive. Sometimes the operator will also charge a start rate and/or a price per minute.
Charge card providers are also developing high-tech ecosystems that allow you to charge virtually anywhere with a single charge card. This is known as roaming, and it also comes at a cost.
So how you should you tackle this issue? By choosing and using your charging infrastructure in a smart way, and by building up your charging strategy in three steps:
Encourage people to charge on your company premises as much as possible. This is the cheapest method: the average charging costs at work vary between 5 and 25 cents per kWh.
Companies can often negotiate cheaper electricity rates, and an energy controller comes in handy to reduce the costs even further. This kind of system distributes the available energy between your building and your charge points, thus avoiding expensive peak consumption.
Tip: if you want to charge in the most eco-friendly way, work is also the best place. On your company premises, you will often have easier access to sustainable energy or may already have a green energy contract. If you also have your own solar panels, you can charge vehicles in a truly green and economical way by connecting our energy controller to them.
To avoid your employees having to use public charge points on a regular basis – and to offer them greater convenience – you can also have charge points installed at their homes. If the energy market is stable, the average charging costs for home installations will be around 25 cents per kWh.
Tip: always choose charge points with a certified MID meter. This allows you to be 100% sure that the measured charging sessions are correct, as these devices are calibrated and inspected. This is important if you are reimbursing your employees’ charging costs. For charge points without an MID meter, the registered kWh can deviate from the reality by up to 10%.
If you turn to MobilityPlus for a charge point, however, you can be sure that it will always have an MID meter.
You will pay an average of between 35 and 40 cents per kWh at a medium-fast public charge point (AC), and as much as 60 to 70 cents for a fast charger (DC). It should be clear that the use of public charge points is a last resort.
Your e-car policy is the best tool for getting your entire team on the right charging track. This is where you make clear arrangements about how often someone can charge at a particular location. Or at least: demonstrate how you can drive more kilometres on the same charging budget by charging in the right locations.
For example: your employees receive a charging budget of 200 euros per month. If they use this budget to charge 60% at work, 30% at home and 10% at public charge points, they will be able to cover an average of 1000 kilometres. You should include this ideal charging mix in your e-car policy. On the other hand, if they charge a lot more at a public charge point, they will be able to drive far fewer kilometres with the same charging budget.
In the consumption reports for the charging sessions, you will then be able to check whether your employees are sticking to your predetermined charging mix.
Important: you also need to specify in advance in your e-car policy what will happen if they fail to do so. Will they have to pay the amount that exceeds the charging budget themselves, or will there be penalties, either immediately or after several warnings? Of course this is up to you.
Are you giving your employees the opportunity to charge their electric company car at work and at home using a smart charging infrastructure? Great. That means they will only have to make a pit stop at an expensive public charging station in an absolute emergency. To really integrate the optimal charging mix, be sure to include it in your e-car policy. If your entire team complies with this mix, you will be able to reduce your former fuel or diesel costs by up to 50%.