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4 Ways Telematics Tech Can Ease EV Range Anxiety for Fleets

  • March 04, 2021
  • Dave Downs
  • Reading Time: 3 minutes
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3.4.21Team Announcement 1 Use the power of data to know that electric vehicles will go the distance. (Credit: iStock, jonathanfilskov-photography)

It’s inevitable: Electric vehicles (EVs) are coming to fleets. According to a survey of fleet managers by Rocky Mountain Institute, more than 80% of fleet owners have added EVs to their vehicle mix or are planning to do so. The reasons are obvious: sustainability targets, regulatory pressures and lower operating and maintenance costs. McKinsey & Co. reports that by 2030, the total cost of EV ownership will be 15% to 25% less than that of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle ownership.

Fleet owners still have concerns about battery life and battery replacement costs, but those are likely to abate as battery technology improves and prices fall. A bigger barrier to adoption is range anxiety. No fleet manager wants to be responsible for stranding drivers on a highway or missing delivery deadlines because an EV lacks the juice to go the distance.

EV ranges have improved in recent years. Some passenger EVs sold in the U.S. can travel more than 300 miles per charge. Ranges are lower for electric vans, varying from 120 miles for the Rivian delivery van, built for Amazon, to 250 miles for GM’s new EV600. Tesla’s electric tractor-trailer Semi is advertised as providing a range of 300 or 500 miles, and Daimler’s forthcoming eActros LongHaul promises a range of about 310 miles. Nevertheless, EVs still can’t travel as far on one charge as a gas or diesel vehicle can travel on a tank.

A telematics solution such as CalAmp iOn that offers information on usage, real-time location and real-time battery and charging status can help address the fundamental worry about range, lower the barrier to entry for fleets looking to embrace EVs and make managing an EV or mixed fleet easier.

Historical driving distance data

A telematics platform can reveal the exact mileage fleet vehicles cover on a particular route or on a typical day. Fleet managers can use this information to assess their range needs and make an informed decision on whether EVs are appropriate additions for particular service areas or routes, as well as which ICE vehicles can potentially be replaced by an EV and which EV makes and models might make sense for the business. Data-based analysis is the best way to feel more confident in the decision to transition to EVs.

EV charging station maps

A telematics app with an intuitive user interface can let you easily see all the local charging stations as icons on your fleet’s track-and-trace maps, as well as certain details about those charging stations, such as the level of charging (voltage and speed). This at-a-glance information helps inform route planning as well as decision-making about when an EV driver should stop and charge. With so many charging stations supporting different types of EVs and offering different rates, the last thing you need is to miss a delivery window because the charging station does not support your EV.  Granular insight into which charge stations meet your fleet’s needs can be the difference between a shipment being on time versus late.

Vehicle charge status

Whether EV, gas or diesel, a vehicle’s range is an estimate, not a guarantee. Driver behavior, cabin heating and cooling and road type (city vs. highway) impact the distance an EV can travel on one charge. Real-time state-of-charge reporting provides instant visibility into the battery status of every EV so managers can make the best decision about where and when to deploy a vehicle.

What if an EV gets delayed by traffic or an unexpected road blockage? If a quick status check or low-battery alert notification indicates the battery charge isn’t sufficient to get the vehicle to its destination, the manager can proactively send a nearby relief vehicle (a fully charged EV or an ICE vehicle) to continue the trip and complete the job.

Telematics reports can even allow managers to analyze a vehicle’s energy performance when a particular driver is behind the wheel to see the impact of behaviors such as speeding and harsh braking on mileage.

Optimized recharging

Once the EVs are back at the depot for the evening, if charging stations are limited, managers can use state-of-charge reports to help them prioritize the order in which vehicles are charged. In addition, information on current charge levels can help them decide whether to delay charging to take advantage of off-peak electric rates and which vehicles should be hooked to faster charging stations.

EVs are the future. With the White House planning to convert the federal government’s fleet to electric and GM committing to sell only zero-emission cars and trucks by 2035, ICE vehicles will one day be the minority. For commercial and municipal fleets weighing the addition of EVs or managing a mixed fleet, telematics helps ensure that EVs can, in fact, go the distance.

Learn about how to more efficiently manage your mixed fleet with our all new CalAmp iOn fleet management experience. 

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