Telematics is the technology of sending, receiving, and storing information using telecommunication devices with the objective of controlling remote objects. In English for all the non-engineers out there: a vehicle telematic system combines a cellular device installed in your vehicle that tracks location and operating information with back-end systems that analyze that data to provide useful information. For EVs, telematic systems can also transmit information on the battery state-of-charge as well as information specific to the vehicle’s battery management system.
There is a school of thought, shared by many, that EV fleet smart charging requires telematics to not only reduce but also optimize fleet charging costs. Followers of this train of thought believe telematic data is the only way to make smart charging strategies possible, the secret ingredient that makes charging savings happen.
I go to a different school and ride a different train.
To be more specific: My school teaches that telematics, while extremely useful, are not a must-have to successfully execute an EV fleet smart charging strategy.
Don’t get me wrong. I think telematics offers managers fantastic tools for EV fleet management. Telematic systems improve route efficiency, avoid traffic jams, offer detailed operator tracking, monitor vehicle performance, send predictive maintenance alerts, support delivery status monitoring, establish and modify vehicle operating parameters, and more. Fleet managers, if they take full advantage of telematic data from their fleet vehicles, can lower their operating costs and improve customer satisfaction.
Every telematic benefit I just described helps any fleet – whether it is powered by batteries or carbon-based fuels. And these benefits are a beautiful thing; they significantly improve fleet performance.
Telematic Systems and EV Smart Charging
But is installing a telematic data system an absolute requirement in order to reduce the cost of EV fleet charging? Do the charging cost benefits justify the telematic system cost?
For telematics to really have an impact on charging efficiency, you need to “commission” every vehicle that you will be charging. Put another way, you will have to register every vehicle that will use your fleet chargers in your telematics system. In theory, that should be relatively easy to do. You commission each of your electric fleet vehicles to set them up in your telematics system when you first put the system in place. You need to commission new vehicles when they are added to your EV fleet or
when they gain access to your chargers, and you need to delete them from the system when they are retired from your fleet In the day-to-day routines of the real world, the ongoing commissioning and decommissioning of electric vehicles adds yet another level of complexity to the already complex job of EV fleet management.
And while that may be an extra level of complexity, it works well in a closed system where you are only charging commissioned EVs. But what if you charge vehicles that are not part of your commissioned EV fleet and your telematic network? We’re talking about electric vehicles operated by employees, tenants, contractors, customers, and other visitors. These vehicles won’t be connected to your telematic system, so the system won’t be able to help with charge control.
I don’t want to give the impression that I place a low value on telematics.
Telematic data can have a positive incremental impact on EV fleet charging costs (think adding a cherry and sprinkles to your sundae). If you operate charging depots that only serve fleet vehicles equipped with a telematic system, you could further reduce your fleet charging costs by integrating a telematic system into your fleet charging control system. For this reason, EVauto can be configured to accept telematic data and use that data to refine your charging strategy.
But in many cases, we’re talking marginal improvement and incremental savings. We are not talking about telematics as the prime driver of EV fleet charging savings.
However, even when there are incremental savings, those savings won’t be available if the telematic system goes down.
Telematics and Connectivity Issues
Telematic systems can deliver big-time help when it comes to fleet operations -- as long as you have a working data connection. It’s a sad fact of today’s wired world: Wired and wireless internet connections go down. Cell systems get disrupted. When this happens, outages are not your friend, because telematics needs the connection to share data. If connections fail and your systems can’t receive telematic data from your EV fleet, your incremental savings will go unrealized. If your EV fleet’s smart charging control system requires telematic input to function, an outage during charging will lead to higher charging costs or, worse, interrupted charging and vehicles which are not fully charged when you need them.
EVauto’s charging control software is designed to eliminate the need for an external connection so that you can continue executing a smart charging strategy even when the web goes down or cellular connections are lost. This allows EVauto to consistently deliver savings even when there are communication disruptions. Telematic data can help EVauto deliver incremental savings on top of the money saved through its smart charging strategies, but with EVauto you’ll realize the bulk of your charging savings without telematic input.