The U.K.’s Optimise Prime project, the world’s biggest trial of commercial electric vehicles (EVs) say organizers, has completed its one-year operations, offering outcomes that could “unlock the mass rollout of EV fleets across the U.K. and beyond.”
An industry-led project investigating the effects of commercial electric vehicles (EVs) on the electricity distribution network, Optimise Prime demonstrated barriers such as cost and energy demand “can be overcome through digitalization and new product offerings,” according to project officials.
The project delivered an end-to-end overview of the impact transitioning to EVs on the nation’s charging infrastructure and electricity providers, on the businesses investing in new infrastructure, and fleet owners that need to power their vehicles.
Optimise Prime’s cross-sector team united distribution network operators, fleet and private-hire vehicle operators, and technology providers to help networks plan for and promote the EV revolution.
Led by Hitachi Europe and electricity distributor UK Power Networks, project partners include Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, international energy services and solutions company Centrica, Royal Mail, Uber, and fleet management company Novuna,
The EV trial began in July 2021 and involved more than 8,000 vehicles, as well as depot, home, and on-the-road charging facilities.
Key interim findings include:
- EV models can cover the typical range requirements for all three types of fleets, making electrification feasible and achievable.
- To enable the private-hire EV transition, one London neighborhood alone wll nieed an additional 3,200 chargers by 2025.
- In the longer term, the trial highlights how EV fleets can generate revenue and support network operators by offering “turn-down” services where fleets can be charged only when needed and can stop charging during peak times on the electricity network.
- Digitalization can allow fleet and network operators to forecast charging demand, helping manage demand at peak times on the network.
To assist fleets in planning transitions to EVs, Hitachi offers a comprehensive guide based on the Optimise Prime trial, which considers business needs, site constraints (both physical and electrical) and the management of changes to business processes.
Final Optimise Prime results and datasets on commercial EV charging and use will be shared openly on the UK Power Networks’ open data platform in the coming months to help prepare wider industry to make the switch to EVs.
“Our work alongside key partners in this trial has shown that the ambitious EV rollout is possible, and with the use of data, we can overcome the challenges being faced by businesses such as costs and charging availability. Making the transition to EVs easier and cheaper is key in accelerating the road to net zero, not just in the UK but globally,” said John Whybrow, Optimise Prime Business Lead at Hitachi Europe Ltd.
Ian Cameron, Director of Customer Service and Innovation at UK Power Networks said: “We set out to come up with practical solutions to cut the cost of fleets going electric and that’s exactly what we have done – along with a mass of insights and learnings to help fleet managers. Just one example is how using smart charging can go a long way to lowering your up-front costs.”