AssetWorks article as seen in Fleet World, Sustainable Fleets issue, page 34.
Charging infrastructure is the most difficult part of fleet electrification, because of the immense planning, coordination, capital, and expertise that it requires. Increasingly, “Charging as a Service” or CaaS is discussed by fleets as a possible solution. CaaS is a different approach to fueling infrastructure than what most organisations are used to, but its appeal is growing among many leaders in the industry as solution.
What is CaaS?
CaaS is designed to be a worry-free EV charging solution for fleets that combines all the required hardware, software, and service offerings with subscription pricing. The charging vendor owns the charging station, and the fleet pays an all-inclusive cost (which is flexible but usually in payments) for their charging needs.
The concept is low risk for fleets which can budget around fixed and simplified costs, and flexible in that it can be rapidly scaled up or down for different project sites. The greatest cost saving benefit is the increase in simplicity and the reduction in staff time needed to plan and maintain infrastructure—essentially removing the burden of ownership and maintenance with turnkey hardware, software, support, and professional field maintenance.
How is CaaS Priced?
Pricing is often flexible. Most often CaaS is priced on a per port basis with monthly or yearly subscription fees to minimise the upfront cost. Charging as a service provides organisations with minimal upfront purchasing costs, but like financed or leased deals the total cost of ownership would be higher except for one concern— staff time. Charging as a service removes the need for many types of planning and operations support. Depending on internal labor costs, CaaS may or may not be a better value than owning stations outright.
Is It Right for Me?
CaaS is a solution worth researching and discussing internally. The number of resources on the subject that are available to fleets is increasing. Here are key questions fleet leaders should ask when deciding if CaaS is a good fit for their EV fleet program:
- Do I have enough capital for charging equipment and electrical upgrades? Would CaaS minimise my upfront costs enough to allow the purchase of additional vehicles or other equipment?
- Am I comfortable assuming responsibility for things like charger maintenance and operations after the warranty period?
- Does my organisation want to handle fuel credit reporting and selling on its own or with a broker?
- Does my organisation have the capacity to maintain high charger uptime or is it better for the vendor to be responsible?
CaaS makes it possible for organizations to deploy more EV chargers at a faster rate. AssetWorks Sales Director, Simon West-Oliver says, “Not only do CaaS subscriptions create predictable operating expenses, but they shift some of the planning burden to the CaaS vendor”.
Charging as a service also offers organisations a range of benefits and added services. For organisations that require predictable operational expenses, but are unsure on how to estimate or manage those costs CaaS is a tailored-fit solution. For organisations, that lack the staff resources to concentrate on anything more than electric vehicle procurement and deployment, CaaS is a good fit as well. Ultimately, organisations have the flexibility to use CaaS initially as they begin their fleet electrification program or just for a portion of their program—on a trial basis.