With a fully electric van Fiat E-Ducato coming to the market, and various companies –– KIA, Opel, Citroën, Daimler Trucks, and Toyota –– introducing their electric vehicles (EVs) earlier this year, the telematics industry is gaining steam. The recently released EV models demonstrate characteristics which are no worse than those of petrol and diesel vehicles. It’s only a matter of time until fleets universally adopt electric cars.
How will EVs affect transport telematics? To keep up with demand, it’s time for companies that provide solutions for fleet management and GPS tracking to enter the Electric Vehicle market.
The Future Belongs to Electric Cars
Why are we confident that electric cars will inevitably conquer the market of both private and commercial vehicles? Here are several factors that favor the transformation process:
By 2030, the European Union will ban the sale of cars that run on fossil fuels. To reduce CO2 emission, the EU will reduce taxes, introduce subsidies, and adopt incentive programs to stimulate the EV market. Similar programs have been launched in the USA, China, Japan, and other countries. Foreign authorities have a strong intention to stop using traditional cars we have all grown custom to.
Growth of the EV Market for Business
The electric commercial vehicle market is expanding. Almost every month, manufacturers announce new models. According to Markets and Markets, the market’s expected to reach 1.89 million units by 2027 (there were 261 thousand in 2019) with an annual growth rate of 32.7%. The most intensive growth will be detected in the passenger and cargo transportation segment, dominated by giants like BYD and Yutong (China), Proterra (USA), VDL Groep (Netherlands), and AB Volvo (Sweden). The established European players –– Renault, Volkswagen, MAN, Iveco –– also produce their models;
It’s still more expensive for a business to purchase an electric car than a new vehicle with an internal combustion engine. However, electric vehicles are remarkably cheaper to own and run: by 5% in Great Britain, 11% in Germany, 12% in France, 12% in the Netherlands, 27% in Norway.
Besides, as electric vehicles have just a few nodes and almost no rotating parts, it’s less time- and money consuming to maintain and repair them. Plus, electricity is several times cheaper than fossil fuels.
How Will Electric Cars Change Telematic Software?
Most likely, general approaches to electric vehicle tracking will remain the same as fossil fuel cars. However, developers of satellite monitoring platforms should upgrade their products to be compatible with new characteristics typical of electric vehicles. These include:
State of Charge
Along with the growing popularity of electric cars, fuel theft will become a thing of the past and fuel level sensors. Instead, fleet owners will have to monitor the state of charge, to plan the order of car charging;
Battery health is getting worse over time. With battery health monitoring, one will be ready for a prompt battery change without interrupting day-to-day business operations;
It’s important to fully understand how the battery is being charged and monitor any mistakes. For example, technical specialists can overuse the fast charging mode, which deteriorates battery health. Another case is using non-original chargers or accessories of unknown manufacturers. Such equipment leads to overheating and potential degradation or short circuit and even fire;
At first glance, this parameter is also present in traditional cars. But it has greater importance for electric vehicles. Not only does it show energy consumption per km or how effectively a car is used, but it also helps to understand how external factors affect a vehicle. For example, how much drive range is reduced in cold weather or how altitude changes affect the mileage;
It’s important to understand how much energy an electric vehicle gets while driving. Monitoring these parameters and performing their further analysis contributes to more effective fleet management and data-driven decisions.
How can we use it? For example, for planning electric cars purchasing, their load, and repairs.
Let’s say, you own a delivery service. Having analyzed your vehicles’ mileage, you noticed that 70% of the fleet go 150-200 km per day in the city. The units with internal combustion engines have increased fuel consumption if they drive in the city. Besides, repeated braking and acceleration wear out the nodes faster. So it would be reasonable to consider replacing the existing cars with electric vehicles. It will be cheaper to own electric vehicles: they break down less frequently and can power themselves due to energy recovery. At the same time, traditional vehicles can still be used for long-distance international trips.
Telematics Hardware Market
If we talk about telematics, we can’t help but mention hardware. Telematics hardware is split into two big categories: OEMs and third-party manufacturers.
The first category includes equipment installed by an auto manufacturer or an original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Its quality increases each year, as manufacturers try to meet clients’ demands. However, typically it’s the most basic equipment which solves simple tasks.
The second category includes equipment from third-party manufacturers. It is usually more complex and helps to solve diverse and difficult tasks. The demand for these devices will only be growing. The reason is that fleets typically consist of vehicles produced by multiple manufacturers. Using factory-installed solutions (both hardware and software) is inconvenient – you don’t get a holistic view of the whole fleet due to the incompatibility of the pre-installed systems. This highlights the need for a device-agnostic solution that will keep under control of the entire fleet, irrespective of vehicle manufacturers. Third-party hardware and software products solve this task, showing the fleet’s state in one browser tab.
OEMs set high targets for the equipment’s production to monitor charging stations, mileage, and remote access to onboard car computers.
Electric vehicles are the next step in the evolution of the automotive industry and transport telematics. Even today, we see a lot of new opportunities in the EV sphere. It’s not only about traditional tracking but also about working with Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI).