CHILTON, Wis. — The electric vehicle market is new and exciting for some, a complete mystery to others.
And then there are those who treat it like a swimming pool; they’re just going to dip their toe in the water to see if it feels right.
EnTech Solutions, a division of Menasha-based Faith Technologies Incorporated, is looking to ease anxiety, understand concerns and find solutions for their customers who are contemplating, or embarking on, fleet transitions.
They feel they’re well-equipped to support their customers because they are going through the transition themselves.
“When you say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go electric.’ There are a lot of things that go on in people’s minds,’’ said Wade Leipold, vice president of solutions at Faith Technologies. “‘What does it mean? Where do I charge? Is this really a viable option or not at this point?’"
“So I think it’s important to get the word out there and say, ‘We are doing it.’ We’re not just talking about it. We’re not just installing it, we’re actually following through and we’re doing the solutions for us so that we can better serve our customers and get an understanding of how they can better serve their customers.”
Leipold said Faith has approximately 300 vehicles.
“So we mapped out all of our vehicles,” Leipold said. “We’re taking a look at what are those vehicles that best meet the range and capability of the EVs that are out on the market. And then looking at what the charging profile would need to be for us. How long do we need to charge them? When do we charge them?”
To help get those answers, EnTech built their Lakeside Vision Center, a 19,000-square foot facility that is completely off-grid. Behind that they’re building a charging depot that will also be off-grid, where it plans to collect data and analytics from its vehicles.
One key question customers have is will their investment in EVs lead to savings.
“There are savings in overall service for these vehicles,” Leipold said. “There are no oil changes. Basically, it’s tires and windshield wipers once you start taking a look at as overall service capability. And then we know that fueling charges, there is definitely a decrease in overall fueling. So a lot of that is dependent on where you’re filling the vehicles up and so forth.
“But to take a classic truck like this (a Ford F-150 Lightning) and to fill it up, you’re probably between $70 and $100. You take the same truck from an electric standpoint, and you fill it up with electricity in the state of Wisconsin, I would say you’re probably between $10 and $20. So there’s some significant savings when you take a look at it from that standpoint.”
Range anxiety is another hurdle for customers, Leipold said.
“There’s a number of applications out that you can pull in and punch in where you’re going and it will highlight all the charging locations along the way,” Leipold said. “And it plans out your path for you.”
Leipold said apps will take into account the vehicle you’re driving and let you know how far you can travel to the next charging station. They also show what level of charger the charging station has, how long it will take to charge your vehicle to the desired amount and then let you know how far you can travel before the next charging station.
“So they’ve tried to put a lot of that in place to kind of take that fear and anxiety away,” he said.
EnTech has also developed its own EV chargers that are renewable, can be off-grid and use no fossil fuels.
The Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve in Appleton has worked with Faith Technologies since 2016 and now has a micro grid and EV chargers on site. Executive director Randy Tuma said visitors have taken notice.
“Not only the EV chargers but with the micro grid itself that helps power the campus here,” Tuma said. “So very inquisitive on how that electrification process is working, what renewable energy resources are being used. Lots of people coming out here to charge their cars, so I’ve seen quite a bit of traffic because of that.”
Tuma said the micro grid has allowed Bubolz to expand its programming.
“We can also talk to students now, the general public, about how this is helping power the campus and could be a more of a factor going into the future,” he said.
“I think this plays a big part in our sustainability initiative overall, and being able to show our community, and the rest of the world, what can be done using technology to help the environment.”
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