Three Key Factors To Profitable Electric Van and Truck Fleet Operation

The movement toward sustainable mobility is gaining momentum. Large fleet operators such as Deutsche Post, Amazon, UPS, and the world’s largest baking company, Bimbo are building EV fleets.

For many organizations, the question had shifted from “if” they’re implementing electrification to “how” they can do it better, faster, and cheaper — now.

How can we accelerate electrification in transportation at a commercial scale?

Three key factors are required to make the widespread adoption of electrification for commercial fleets and shared mobility a reality: modularity, infrastructure, and safety.

Here’s why they’re significant and how EV technologies need to evolve to make electrification viable from a business/profitability standpoint:

Modularity

The fastest and most economical way to get as many electric vehicles on the road as possible is to retrofit existing fleets with an electric system. This can dramatically lower acquisition costs while accelerating the implementation timeline.

For instance, Voltabox is offering a modular system for converting diesel buses to electric buses. The modular battery pack design makes it possible to adapt the system to different configurations.

The challenge posed by the modular battery systems that are currently available is two-fold:

  • Even though the battery packs can be configured modularly, they still act as a “monolithic” block after they’re installed. The operator can’t add or subtract the number of cells that a vehicle carries based on the requirement of each trip to optimize capacity while minimizing “deadweight.”
  • The EVs using these battery packs still need to sit idle at a charging station for an extended duration to refuel. This limits the ROI because one more minute at the charging station means one less minute a vehicle is on the road. Also, charging time is dependent on the infrastructure supporting the charging station, which is out of the control of EV manufacturers and fleet operators.

 

While these battery packs are heading the right direction, they aren’t fully leveraging the concept of “modularity” to maximize the performance and profitability of EV fleets.

Smart Batteries. 1 Standard Module, Many Voltages and Configs

 

Infrastructure

Current EV technology requires the support of extensive charging infrastructure. The creation of a reliable system will involve many parties, including fleet operators, power grid operators, energy suppliers, charging hardware manufacturers, and charging software providers.

For example, the E-Mobility Group of Daimler Trucks & Buses just announced an initiative to develop charging infrastructure for electric trucks — the company realizes that without a reliable refueling system, there simply won’t be a market for their vehicles.

However, Daimler’s strategy of developing a charging infrastructure from scratch is hardly the fastest path to electrification:

 

As such, these charging stations aren’t solving the “range anxiety” problem because:

The range problem is only a problem when an electric vehicle needs to sit idle for hours to charge at designated locations that are far and few between.

 

Safety

When it comes to commercial operations, safety and liabilities are major concerns. Fleet operators need to be certain that the technologies are supported by extensive safety features to prevent issues, such as thermal runaway incidents.

Devices have been developed to improve the safety of advanced battery units. However, they’re added onto a system rather than built as an intrinsic part of the EV technology.

  • They can only prevent hazards from happening after issues have arisen in the system (e.g., by tripping a circuit at a certain level of current.) They don’t have the capability to predict potential problems and initiate preventive measures.
  • They can’t collect data from the system and analyze the behaviors of the battery units to forecast where a problem may occur so the right measures can be taken before operations get disrupted.

 

Even if these devices can stop an accident from happening, the battery system would likely be damaged — resulting in the high cost involved in replacing a “monolithic” battery pack.

 

An EV Battery Ecosystem That Encompasses Modularity, Infrastructure, and Safety

Although many new technologies are emerging to help accelerate the adoption of EVs at a commercial scale — confirming the need to address modularity, infrastructure, and safety — there isn’t a system that encompasses all three factors while creating the level of cost-efficiency needed for a viable business case.

The main issue is that these technologies are developed in silos — solving one problem at a time — instead of being conceived as an ecosystem.

Commercial EV adoption can happen faster and cheaper with the EV battery ecosystem using Tanktwo’s patented technologies because:

    • The design of the String Cells and String Tank is inherently modular. The String Tank can be shaped to fit or retrofit any kind of vehicle so existing fleets can be used. This will minimize capital expenditure while increasing the speed to market.
    • Fleet operators can adjust the number of String Cells and program them for flexible adoption to demand and requirements — providing the exact capacity needed for each trip without “deadweight.”
    • The liquefaction technology allows existing infrastructure to be used for refueling with minimal disruption to current workflows and business operations.
    • The String Cells can be charged anywhere and at any time. They can be charged and store power when/where demand is low and distributed to refueling locations when/where the demand is high. Not only will this eliminate the dependence on the grid and the capacity of specific charge locations but it also allows us to tap into the $500 million energy storage market.
    • The intrinsic safety features of the system provide four layers of protection thanks to the smart cell technology, as well as the ability to use data analytics to predict battery behaviors and isolate problematic cells preemptively.
    • The modular system allows individual cells to be swapped out without affecting the rest of the battery pack. Instead of replacing an expensive “monolithic” battery, operators only need to replace one problematic cell when necessary — drastically reducing the cost of ownership.

 

Data Science For Batteries: Flexibility, Asset Utilization

The demand for electrification is undeniable. Tanktwo’s technology will make the deployment of any EV fleet faster and more profitable through modularity, retrofitting, independence from infrastructural constraints, and enhanced safety.