18 Sep 20

Why telematics technology is vital for EV adoption

While the environmental arguments in favour of electric vehicles are clear, their total costs of ownership are far less certain. The result leaves fleet decision makers with the budgeting challenge of weighing forecasts of EVs’ lower energy and maintenance costs against the certainty of their higher acquisition costs, when compared to equivalent diesel vehicles.

This doubt helps to explain the shortfall between the high number of companies considering the adoption of EVs and the relatively low number actually making the commitment.

Analysing vehicle data collected through telematics tracking technology could, however, provide fleets with the information required to make more confident decisions.

As Webfleet says: “You need to find and choose the right vehicles, estimate your charging requirements, assess the most affordable options for financing, build your internal charging infrastructure, plan changes to the layout of your site (and, potentially, your employees’ homes) to accommodate the new vehicles and, if required, apply for the necessary permits. Choose poorly at this point and you might end up with vehicles that are not fit for purpose, infrastructure that can’t support your work schedule and a bad return on investment.”

Telematics can identify ICE vehicles that EVs could replace

By connecting current internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles via telematics, fleet managers can measure with pinpoint accuracy vehicle routes and determine whether EVs could complete these journeys on a single battery charge. The same information can also underpin the chronological order of which ICE vehicles are replaced by battery power.

Geotab’s Electric Vehicle Suitability Assessment (EVSA) tool specifically helps fleet managers assess electric vehicle suitability by analysing their existing telematics data and creating an electrification recommendation based on each vehicle’s individual driving patterns. For vehicles whose business mileage exceeds battery range, fleet managers could use the same tracking information to identify public charge points or corporate locations where chargers might be installed to top up batteries during the working day.

Data to calculate future fuel savings

Business mileage data also forms the basis of calculations for the potential energy/fuel savings of EVs over ICEs when drawing up a business plan to support zero emission adoption. Furthermore, current ICE mileage and fuel use data provides the foundation for working out the CO2 savings of running EVs, which is vital for supporting the environmental arguments in favour of battery power.

Future-proofing business by maintaining access to cities

And as more major cities follow the lead of Amsterdam, London and Paris in announcing future bans on diesel vehicles, telematics tracking can identify which ICE vehicles on a fleet currently enter these future exclusion zones, so they can be replaced without impacting business continuity.

Calculate battery range in real time

Once EVs join a fleet, connected vehicle data arguable becomes even more important. Multiple data feeds via telematics, including weather, temperature, elevation and traffic congestion can provide accurate calculations of the true range left in an electric vehicle’s batteries. This enables fleet operators to determine whether there is sufficient range to complete the next sequence of jobs or whether an alternative vehicle should be despatched. EVs that run out of electricity cannot be towed by a recovery truck to a charge point, because this damages their motors, so telematics alerts of any vehicles at risk of flat batteries while out on the road enable fleet managers to contact drivers and direct them to the nearest charge point.

Decide recharging priorities among fleet vehicles

Moreover, when several EVs are back at a depot, telematics allows fleet managers to compare the state of charge in the batteries and prioritise which vehicles need to recharge first due to their operational schedules.

Last mile logistics company Gnewt, for example, could only charge 35 vehicles at its depot at any one time, due to the power available in the local grid, but had up to 70 vehicles requiring charge. The solution lay in a telematics platform developed by Geotab that could directly supply vital real-time intelligence on vehicle state of charge, as well as which vehicle is being charged, and when. As a result, Gnewt has increased the number of vehicles it can recharge in a day from 30 to 80. And the same data is now enabling Gnewt to support vehicle-to-grid opportunities from 10 of its depot chargers.

Take advantage of predictive service and maintenance

Scheduling is also going to be an issue for service work, with an anticipated shortfall in EV-specialist mechanics in garage workshops. The growing number of sensors on vehicles, especially EVs, will provide fleet managers with telematics alerts about any parts or tyres at risk of failure, so that maintenance can be planned well before breakdown, ensuring the garage has the right technician and parts ready when the vehicle comes in for work.

Manage recharge costs

Finally,the need for fleet managers to closely manage ‘fuel’ costs will not disappear with the transition to EVs – in fact, it will intensify with energy costs being one of the biggest areas of cost savings compared to ICEs. While recharging batteries is considerably cheaper across Europe than filling a fuel tank with diesel, the charge points that drivers select and the individual driving styles of employees both have a significant impact on electricity bills.

This means that connected data on business miles driven, driver fuel consumption and the charge point price of power will be critically important for cost-conscious businesses.


How telematics can support EV adoption

Financial assessment
1. Estimate expected driving range and battery charging requirements.
2. Identify which ICE vehicles can be replaced by an EV.
3. Select the EV makes and models most suitable to a company’s processes and industry.
4. Calculate how many chargers a company requires and whether drivers need chargers at home.
5. Plan the changes required to a workspace and infrastructure to accommodate EVs.



Financial assessment

1. Calculate the full cost of adding EVs to the fleet.

2. Estimate and monitor the energy/fuel savings of electricity over diesel.

3. Estimate and monitor the service and maintenance costs of an EV compared to an ICE vehicle.

4. Record the road tolls and parking savings available to EVs.

5. Work out the impact a new EV will have on TCO.

Environmental assessment

1. Calculate the real world reduction in CO2 emissions by switching to EVs.



Source: Geotab, Webfleet

Photo: Shutterstock

Authored by: Jonathan Manning