With a prediction of some 125 million electric vehicles on the world’s roads by 2030, it is becoming increasing likely that a big part of the future of transportation is electric. To reach those numbers, though, it will require plenty of heavy lifting on the infrastructure front, as well as coordination among parties. If each vehicle maker produces its own charging system – as often happens today in the automotive space - travel will be limited to only those locations that have that manufacturer’s system.
On the commercial vehicle side, that is not a sustainable prospect. To combat this, a group of automakers - Audi, BMW, Daimler, Mennekes, Opel, Phoenix Contact, Porsche, TÜV SÜD and Volkswagen – joined forces and created the Charging Interface Initiative e.V. (CharIN). Based in Berlin, Germany, the association is open to all interested parties and designed to develop and establish the Combined Charging System (CCS) as the global standard for charging battery powered electric vehicles.
While it was started by a group of car companies, CharIN has now picked up major U.S. truck players, the latest being Penske Truck Leasing. Penske plans to work with the association’s “High Power Charging for Commercial Vehicles Task Force” (HPCCV Task Force).
“As a leading services provider to commercial fleets, we feel standardization around electric vehicle charging and charging stations will help accelerate the use of electric vehicles within the transportation industry,” said Brian Hard, President and CEO of PenskeTruck Leasing. “The interoperability of vehicle charging stations over the road is essential for commercial fleet uptime, efficiency, maintenance, and general ease of use for the industry.”
Penske has been seeing increased interest among its commercial customers for electric vehicles and believes that standardizing charging infrastructure will help reduce complexity for all involved, including drivers, maintenance providers and recharging providers.
Bill Combs, Penske’s director of connected fleets, explained that joining CharIN is about making sure Penske’s customers have access to the right vehicles for their operations.
“We want to be on top of everything and there aren’t a lot of electric vehicles in Class 6, 7, or 8, which is the majority of our vehicles,” Combs said. “As long as there is a pickup in that type of vehicle [as predicted], we will expect [electric vehicles] to become a bigger part of our fleet.”
Penske operates more than 270,000 vehicles from more than 1,000 locations in North America, South America, Europe, Australia and Asia. The company offers full-service truck leasing, contract maintenance, commercial and consumer truck rentals, used truck sales, transportation and warehousing management and supply chain management solutions.
Started primarily by car makers, a meeting in North America back in March started the process of developing the HPCCV Task Force to focus on the unique needs of heavy-duty vehicles.
“If the industry can agree on some standards, it will be a much easier conversation wit the regulatory bodies [to set charging standards],” Combs explained. He added that it is not just standardizing charging units, but also wattage and more so users can simply plug in a vehicle anywhere.
“If there is any chance of electric vehicles being successful, they are going to need standards,” Combs noted.
Being part of CharIN ensures Penske will have a voice, and Combs said that there are plenty of people who will produce the charging units – Penske doesn’t do that – but that it is Penske customers that will ultimately be affected.
“We need to make sure we have the right vehicles for our customers,” he said. “We need to make sure these vehicles are viable for our customers.”
“We are thrilled to have Penske Truck Leasing as a CharIN member and active contributor to the work of the HPCCV Task Force. Our goal is to extend CCS capabilities to meet the requirements for commercial EV charging. The input from end users is the key to our success. Penske is the first fleet operator to join our team and this brings this important work one step closer to successful completion,” said Oleg Logvinov, the spokesperson for CharIN in North America and President and CEO of IoTecha.