The COVID-19 pandemic triggered shutdowns across the globe, impacting both industrial activity and demand for manufactured goods. As restrictions began lifting in 2021, demand soared once again, but the disrupted supply chain struggled to keep pace due to issues like worker shortages, lack of raw materials, and issues at the ports. Over time, the problem has gotten worse, not better.
According to Moody’s Analytics, “Supply will likely play catch up for some time, particularly as there are bottlenecks in every link of the supply chain—labor certainly, as mentioned above, but also containers, shipping, ports, trucks, railroads, air and warehouses.”
The question on many fleet managers’ minds is: how will these supply chain disruptions affect my EV fleet program which is especially dependent on Asian-Pacific trade?
Just as new reports say that everyone should anticipate delays when ordering holiday gifts, fleet professionals should expect delays in receiving new electric vehicle chargers. High amperage Level II chargers and 25kw DC Fast Chargers are especially scarce right now. Lead times for these chargers can vary from 8 to more than 30 weeks depending on the model. Lower-speed AC chargers are less affected, but their inventories are also being drawn down faster than many manufacturers can replenish.
Even without supply chain disruptions, it is good practice for fleets to be proactive with their EV charging operations. EV projects are complex, and last-minute changes to equipment can create a cascade of issues from having to update permit applications to making changes to a project’s actual site design.
When considering a new EV charging project, fleet organizations should:
- Order chargers early or extend schedules out: While the global supply chain will eventually settle back into typical operations, fleets should plan for longer wait times than in years past for new chargers to be delivered.
- Be thoughtful about substitutions: If a certain charger makes/model is unavailable, switching to another manufacturer may be an option— or not. Before buying a charger, fleet managers should confirm that it has been tested and validated with their planned change management software. Unfortunately, “OCPP” certification does not mean that chargers are interchangeable.
- Consult with the utility: Chargers aren’t the only aspect of EV projects that may take more time than anticipated. Utility service upgrades may also be delayed. Fleets should involve their utility account managers as early and as frequently in their EV fleet projects to confirm adequate service and timely make-ready support potentially as well.
- Check-in with their fleet and fuel management software provider: With any major changes to fleet operations, fleets should consult with their fleet and fuel management software provider for general technology and compatibility updates.
While the global supply chain will eventually settle back into typical operations, fleets should understand the current complicated situation and develop their plans accordingly.