Are you EV-ready?

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Follow these handy tips for preparing your facility

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Electric Vehicles (EVs) are a big part of your future. By some estimates, they will represent 35 per cent or more of new light duty vehicle sales by 2040. Every auto manufacturer in the world has them at or near at the centre of their plans for the next decade.

To service these vehicles, the first thing you need to know is that if EV owners leave their vehicle with you, they expect to have it returned charged.

This is especially true of the early adopters/high income owners. EVs draw enormous current while charging and continue to do so over a long period of time.

Simply put, your facility has to be able to fully charge up to a third of your average daily traffic, many of them simultaneously. It’s time to get your facility EV-ready.

Assess your facility.

Does your facility have 100, 200 or 400 amp service? For home EV purposes, 200 amp service is often more than enough, but given the heavy loads associated with charging multiple EVs at once, 400 amp service is preferable for dealerships.

Look at your electrical bill. How many kWh do you typically use per month? It would not be unusual in domestic usage for twice weekly EV charging to double the kWh used in a typical month.

Most dealer facilities can expect similar spikes in usage with the arrival of EVs. Look at the transformer that delivers power to your facility. It should tell you the voltage available.

Over time, hydro rates will only go up. Your operating budget should reflect these realities.

Define your service levels.

How quickly do you want EVs in your facility to charge?

There are four levels of EV chargers. Level one is essentially plugging the car into a standard outlet and allowing the DC charger in the car to fill up the battery. This will add approximately four miles of range an hour to a typical EV.

Level two is better and will allow most EVs to get to 80 per cent of capacity with an overnight charge.

At Level three we get to serious stuff, allowing you to fully charge most EVs in under an hour with 40-60 kw of output. Globally, there are two main standards of level three chargers — CHAdeMO and SAE combo.

Different OEMs are aligned with each of them and a quick Google search will let you know which you should be focusing on.

Bring the power to the vehicles.

Standard 110 volt outlets can’t handle level two or three chargers, and aren’t ideal even for level one chargers.

While heavy duty NEMA 14-50 240 outlets (the kind that RVs typically use) may already be the norm in your service bays, they may not be installed in parking areas where customer vehicles sit before or after service, where the bulk of charging would occur.

These outlets will need to be wired with what is known as a “home run” circuit and appropriate wall connector. You’ll also need size 10 conduits to the charging points in order to accomplish level two or three charging safely.

Can you see why a qualified electrical contractor with EV experience might come in handy?

Flip the script.

What if you can’t get enough power through your facility? You may need a step up transformer.

That can cost from $25,000 to $100,000. In some cases, like older facilities or facilities with only 60 amp service, it may be less expensive and more convenient to power your EV revolution the old fashioned way — with hydrocarbons.

DC to DC generators powered by natural gas give the juice you need right at the point you need it. They can be purchased and installed for between $10,000 and $20,000.

Reap the benefits. Now that you’ve spent all that time, effort and possibly money to get your facility EV-ready, it’s time to let everyone know, starting with your customers.

Also, let Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) know. You may qualify for write offs due to your wise, forward thinking investment in Green Energy.

The arrival of EVs is going to change your business. But with a little planning, and a lot of foresight, you can be ready for the future long before it comes.ght now.

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