EVs, telematics to have symbiotic relationship

  • 09-Sep-2010 11:17 EDT

Electric vehicle owners will use telematics to seek out charging stations. (GM)

The ramp up for high-volume telematics seems likely to precede the takeoff of fully electric vehicles, but the two are expected to help each other out. Telematics will let EV owners connect to the grid and also reduce range anxiety by letting them know how far they are from charging stations.

The latter will be important for some time as the infrastructure for battery charging is being put in place. “Every electric vehicle will have to have a telematics solution,” said John Horn, National Director of Machine to Machine Communications for T-Mobile. “People know where gas stations are. Electric charging stations are another story. They may also want to link to an infrastructure that will let them reserve a charging station and tell them how long recharging will take.”

As EV usage grows, another factor will help ensure that electric cars have telematics links. The smart grid is being expanded at roughly the same time as the growth of EVs and telematics. Electric utilities are using smart meters to even out the consumption of electricity, partially by charging users more during peak times.

That means it will be cheaper to recharge EVs in the middle of the night or during other off hours. Some telematics providers and utilities are working together to create links between vehicles and utility control systems, letting the utility decide when a vehicle will recharge its batteries.

“When electric vehicles reach critical mass, they will have to communicate with the grid,” said Erik Goldman, President of Hughes Telematics. “You don’t want 10,000 vehicles all recharging at 10 p.m.”

If all EVs do indeed have telematics links, that will help those who monitor traffic conditions. Traffic control centers can access telematics systems to monitor vehicle speeds and locations to determine how traffic is flowing.

“Data communication will be a very important factor for electric vehicles, which will make them a good platform for collecting information going forward,” said Thilo Koslowski, Automotive Vice President for Gartner Inc.

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