How telematics can help us complete the EV transition
By David Savage, vice president, UK and Ireland, Geotab
There are now just seven years remaining until the purchase of new petrol or diesel cars is set to be outlawed in the UK, as part of the government’s Net Zero goals. Despite this relatively short timeframe, the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) sector – notably electric vehicles – faces challenges; specifically with the cessation of various financial incentives and the inadequate pace in infrastructure investment to support electrification at scale.
EVs – once renowned for their incredibly cheap running costs and a flurry of incentives and benefits – are now losing their cachet. Electricity prices have increased over 66% in the past year, the £2,500 Plug-In Car Grant (PiCG) has been scrapped and Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is set to be introduced for zero-emission vehicles from 2025.
Recent research from Which? also found that around half of EV drivers say they don’t have adequate access to charging points. The Government is aiming to deliver 300,000 chargers by 2030, a target of 100 installations each day. Currently, however, only around 26 are being installed daily, creating an inevitable shortfall in charging points across the country.
Common data platforms, such as Geotab’s, can enable more effective communication and collaboration between all the stakeholders in the EV ecosystem – from vehicle manufacturers and infrastructure providers to government agencies. This setup helps to align goals and accelerate development at scale.
For example, telematics can help inform the roll-out of the charging infrastructure by providing detailed information on vehicle usage patterns, routes and energy consumption. This data can then determine where vehicles are most likely to require charging, whether at home, work, or public locations – and the best location and types of infrastructure needed (such as fast chargers) to meet current and future demand. Even emergent vehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems can help utilities and energy operators understand and predict EV charging patterns, supplying electricity more effectively, improving load management, and grid stability.
Telematics are also invaluable for fleet operators considering when and how to incorporate EVs into their fleet. Choosing the correct vehicles is essential, so being able to analyse an organisations’ vehicle usage patterns means fleet managers can know with certainty their required range, charging requirements, and payload capacity. Tools such as Geotab’s Electric Vehicle Suitability Assessment can demonstrate the potential cost savings and benefits associated with undertaking the transition, work out the most suitable candidate vehicles to replace first and when to do so. The range/temperature analysis can also work out how seasonal weather conditions can affect range performance.
Once fleet managers have embarked on their transition, telematics can continue to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) by tracking energy consumption, predictive maintenance and a range of other operating costs for each vehicle. Being able to identify areas where efficiencies can be made and cost-saving strategies implemented helps make EV fleet adoption more financially viable.
It’s clear this is a market in need of some reinvigoration to build further confidence. While we’re seeing ‘the stick’ with policies such as London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charges, there has not been as much ‘carrot’ being offered, as of late. Telematics could incorporate intelligence into grants and incentives to ensure public funds are invested wisely; for example, fleet managers would be able to provide detailed data on the environmental benefits of their fleet, e.g., reduced CO2 emissions and air pollution, when applying for financial incentives, grants, and tax breaks.
The road ahead of us is short, but it’s necessary given the broader circumstances of our planet. But with an intelligent, data-driven approach, combined with targeted government investment and incentives, we can reach a zero emissions future on time.