Autonomous driving, where vehicles use sensors and computers to automate the driving of a vehicle is perhaps the ultimate use of telematics. What is certain is that since human error is a factor in around 90% of road accidents, the pressure for autonomous driving to help reduce those deaths and injuries will ensure that it becomes a reality in the next 10 years. It could also play a part in reducing CO2 emissions by avoiding harsh acceleration and braking.
EV charging was briefly back in the spotlight recently when Volvo called for a standardised charging system for all EVs, eliminating the different connectors needed for standard and rapid charging and the different connector types.
Connection standards are just one issue. Another is determining who should pay for charging a particular vehicle and also gathering data on the charging history of that vehicle – how often is it charged up and where? Obviously it needs more than a straightforward power point to gather that information. Charge point manufacturer ICU (for integrated charging unit) produces charge points capable of handling data as well as providing electricity.
The company has its global headquarters in the Netherlands and sources A-grade components solely from European countries. “We design all the electronics,” explains Alex Earl, UK and Ireland country manager (left), “And we carry out all the production and assembly of the units from our facility in Holland as well.”
ICU has been active in the Dutch market since 2008 with some 25% to 30% of the charging equipment market there. “We are also in Belgium and now making a concerted effort getting into Germany and France, having now set up in the UK. We have chargers in other countries – in Spain and in Russia for example – as well,” says Earl. “We’re pretty pleased to say that things are standardising, certainly on the AC side of charging, so we’ve got a standardised socket. There’s a standardised communications protocol between the car and the charging infrastructure, the Mode 3 protocol, which has now settled down well between the manufacturers.”
“What we hear from fleet managers is that they want a charging system that is future-proof and supports all EVs out there,” continues Earl, “What we are seeing as successful or desired by fleet managers are 22kW chargers, simply because that supports maximum AC charging for all the EVs out there. So whether you’re charging a Nissan LEAF on 7kW/32 amps on single phase or a Tesla on three phase at 32A or a ZOE on three phase, it supports all cars.
“What is increasingly in demand is the ability to gather all the charging data that you can get from your charge points. So that’s charge points that are communicating to a back office. As a fleet manager, I can log on to my portal and see not only how much each charge point is being used but also how much my drivers are charging as well. You can have your charge points at work and also at the home of your employees and with one overview you can see how much an individual is charging both at home and at work. By having that overview, it helps you to get a better understanding of what your drivers are wanting. It also comes back to future proofing. If in future the tax office comes knocking at your door saying people charging at work is a Benefit-in-Kind, you will have all the data in hand to support that.
“As demand is increasing, it’s not just one charge point for one EV, it’s going to be a group of charge points. That inevitably has an impact on your power.
“Fleet managers are looking to minimise those investment costs and by having intelligent solutions which enable load balancing between charge points, you can really limit your costs but still support all your drivers.”