Fleet Management is rapidly evolving and fleets of all sizes, across all service sectors are turning to telematics platforms to optimize their operations. Meanwhile, the composition of those fleets is also in flux, with many transitioning towards electric vehicles (EVs). For some this is driven by the need to get ahead of tougher legislation, while others are making the change for the environmental, financial and operational benefits that EVs can deliver.
Whether you’re looking to make your fleet 1% or 100% electric, you need to ensure that those vehicles are fully data supported by your fleet management system. EVs have unique metrics that need to be monitored in order to optimize their performance, range and return on investment.
That’s why it’s so important that when you select your telematics provider, they support all of the following features:
EV model support
Unlike conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, EVs do not communicate EV specific information in any mandatory standards. Telematics applications need the ability to access this information for all the models in your fleet – including EVs. That’s why it’s important to confirm that:
- EV models you have in your fleet today – and those you are considering in the future – are fully supported for the data elements listed below;
- as well, that the telematics solution you’ve selected has the capabilities and historic track record to support future models.
EV basic monitoring
Real-time EV State of Charge reporting while driving and charging
Dispatch and fleet managers need a precise picture of their vehicles’ battery charge % or State of Charge (SOC) in real time – ideally reported at every 1% change – so that they can optimize their operations and get the most out of their EVs. No one wants a stranded driver, and no one wants to turn down a job due to uncertainty of whether the vehicle has sufficient charge to complete the task. That’s why knowing the SOC of your vehicles in real time is so important.
Bonus – If the telematics software can display your vehicles and their real-time SOC on a live map view, then you can dispatch the nearest vehicle with sufficient battery charge, ensuring the best customer service and most efficient use of your vehicles.
When it comes to fleet pool management, monitoring SOC in percentage increments tells you exactly which vehicles need charging and how much they require to complete the journeys they are booked for.
Real-time charging status
To make sure that you’re getting maximum utilization out of your EVs, you may need to optimize charging times for each vehicle. Your telematics software should provide you with a live charging status for each vehicle, with the ability to set up alerts if a vehicle should be charging, but isn’t.
Knowing each vehicle’s real-time charging status prevents loss of productivity resulting from insufficiently charged vehicles, or from drivers who forget to plug in.
Alerts and notifications
Telematics solutions should be able to send notifications by email, SMS or web application; either to the management team, or directly to the driver. You will need real-time notifications for conditions such as:
- Low SOC: The right person on your team receives a notification if a vehicle has low SOC during the day and is at-risk of not completing the day without charging. The driver receives an alert when they return to base, telling them to charge the vehicle for the next user. This ensures high utilization rates and minimizes downtime due to insufficient charge levels.
- Optimized charging: Be notified if an EV should be charging and isn’t, ensuring the vehicle is fully charged when it’s needed and a driver is not missing a charging opportunity. It could be that the EV wasn’t plugged in, or there is a malfunction with the charging station.
- Charging complete: The dispatch team receives an email notification, alerting them to the fact that that vehicle is now ready for use, or the plug is available for use by another vehicle.
- Bonus: Specify alerts based on zones or times of day: This could be used to establish “no-charge” times during peak electricity rates, sending a notification to the fleet manager if a vehicle is charged during that time.
Alerts ensure that critical management information passes directly to the relevant people, so that they can immediately be acted upon.
Driving energy data monitoring
Energy consumed while driving/operating
As with a conventional fleet, it is important to monitor and report on the amount of ‘fuel’ used by each of your EVs as they operate. In the case of EVs, that “fuel” is of course electric energy, measured in kWh and Wh.
Energy added to the battery from non-charging (regenerative) sources while driving/operating the vehicle
EVs differ from ICE vehicles because they recuperate energy when braking or driving downhill. Monitoring the exact amount of regenerative charging that each vehicle benefits from is key to understanding the actual cost and efficiency of your electric vehicles (units in kWh and Wh).
Electric energy economy
This is a calculation of the total electric energy consumed over the total distance traveled; the equivalent of MPG or L/100km for your conventional vehicles. This is a key metric to understand how your EVs are performing and your typical real-world range.
You should be able to choose from a range of units for easy comparison, including:
- L-e/100 km
- kWh/100 km
- MPG-e (US)
- MPG-e (Imp)
- kWh/100 mi
The “equivalent” units, such as MPG-e (US) allow you to compare EV performance directly against your conventional vehicles in a single fuel economy report. The report will help you to ascertain the savings your EVs are generating, allowing you to adjust operational behavior to further increase efficiency and expand the vehicles’ electric range.
Total fuel and electric energy economy
When running plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), you’ll need to monitor that battery use is being optimized to ensure that no PHEV is running solely on gas. This report is vital to help you do so, showing the combined electric energy and fuel consumed by each vehicle over the total distance traveled.
If you want to benefit from all the carbon emissions savings and lower fuel costs that a PHEV promises, then this report will help you make sure that your plug-ins are driving the greatest possible electric miles.
EV charging history log
There’s one main difference when running EVs compared to ICE vehicles, and that’s in how they ‘fuel’ up. The telematics software you select should provide an EV charging history log to track these events, with all of the following data captured for each charging session:
- Start date and time
- End date and time
- Location: GPS and street address
- Geofence (Zone)
- Start charge % (SOC)
- End charge % (SOC)
- Energy added (in kWh and Wh)
- Max Power (in kW and W) of the whole charge event
- Current (AC or DC)
- AC voltage
This data enables you to gather deep insights into why your EVs are at their current charge level, and allows you to fully allocate the costs of charging to each vehicle, regardless of where the event took place. Charging reports will attribute the electricity used to a specific vehicle, allowing a fleet manager to monitor vehicle costs, and enable financial management by allocating kWh used to the correct department.
Plug-in compliance is one of the largest issues facing electric fleets, but with an EV charging history log per vehicle, you can ensure compliance and maximize the daily achievable range of your EVs and PHEVs. It also enables you to maximize charging events during the lowest electricity rate times and minimize charging during peak rate times.
Not all telematics providers are created equal. Make sure to request these features in your RFP, so that you get a telematics provider that will future-proof your fleet management software as you make the transition to electric!