The Power of EV Telematics: Data-Driven Fleet Management


There’s lots for fleet managers to think about before adding a new type of vehicle to their fleet. Among the many factors are value, functionality, and environmental impact. But if you’re transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs), there’s also a technological factor to consider: EV telematics.

Telematics has been a powerful tool in the fleet manager’s playbook for decades. But when telematics is applied to EVs, new data becomes available that has the potential to be even more valuable to businesses. Let’s take a deeper look into telematics and how companies can leverage EV-specific data to address vehicle maintenance, range, and recharging.

What Is Telematics?

Telematics is a branch of information technology that deals with the long-distance transmission of computerized information. But most people know telematics as a way to monitor cars, trucks, and equipment using the Global Positioning System (GPS).

Modern telematics is much more than a GPS tracker; it’s a computerized system using onboard diagnostics to gather data such as vehicle acceleration, speed, braking, mileage, and more. This information is sent to the cloud via cellular signals, where a telematics provider can interpret the raw data and load it into their software platform. Many platforms have powerful analytics that offer insight into business operations.

Every fleet manager has a different goal for telematics. However, there are six core areas of interest according to telematics provider Geotab:

  1. Productivity: Feeding data into dispatching and routing tools to optimize travel and planned stops
  1. Safety: Tracking driver behavior and decision making, locating stolen vehicles, and creating collision alerts
  1. Fleet Optimization: Streamlining preventive and predictive maintenance by monitoring hours of service and diagnostics
  1. Compliance: Creating automatic logs for hours of service, vehicle inspection reports, and other documents for regulatory compliance
  1. Integration: Connecting with additional systems such as onboard camera technology and customer management software  
  1. Sustainability: Supporting electric and traditional fleet operations to minimize environmental impact

Telematics for EVs differs somewhat from internal combustion engine vehicles, as there are unique metrics to help manage charging operations proactively.

How to Leverage Telematics for EV Fleets

Handling the telematics for an electrified fleet can be a novel experience. “There’s so many variables when you get into the world of EVs,” says Erin Cave, director of product management at Verizon Connect. “Everyone’s talking about EVs but ... getting them in the field, getting them useful, and making sure that you’re optimizing your fleet for the use of them is really a big challenge.”

Here are a few examples of EV telematics data and how they apply to fleet management:

  • State of Charge (SOC): An EV’s SOC, or the percentage of battery charge remaining, can be used to determine how far a vehicle can go on its current charge and whether it has enough power to finish its route.
  • Charging Status: Real-time charging status verifies if a vehicle is plugged in and charged when needed. And if it isn’t, a fleet manager can take steps to make sure it gets plugged in.
  • Battery Temperature: Some telematics systems monitor EV battery temperature, an indicator of battery health. This info helps with scheduling proactive vehicle maintenance and battery replacement.
  • Energy Consumption: Energy consumption data aids route planning. It’s about knowing when (and where) to charge an EV so that a vehicle can drive as far as possible for the lowest cost.
  • Regenerative Braking: EVs can send energy back to the battery when the driver hits the brakes, a feature called regenerative braking. Telematics can track the recovered energy, which helps with vehicle efficiency monitoring and driver coaching.
  • Charging Station Availability: For planning longer routes, EV telematics systems can give information on charging station locations and availability.

What Challenges Does Telematics Solve for EV Fleet Management?

By leveraging telematics data, EV fleet managers can solve several pain points to make their operations run smoother.

Vehicle Readiness & Asset Downtime

For fleet managers, time is money. It’s essential that vehicles are ready to depart the depot and complete their routes when they are needed. Deploying telematics allows EV fleet managers to know which vehicles need to be recharged, and then coordinate charging schedules to prevent gaps in service that can result in costly productivity losses. What’s more, by understanding vehicle battery health, managers can anticipate when a vehicle might need to be taken out of rotation for servicing, and plan accordingly.  

Fleet EV telematics also prevents EV charging asset downtime by monitoring the operational state of the charging stations themselves. Hardware problems can be detected and mitigated promptly to ensure vehicles can charge when they need to, maintaining continuity of operations.

High Energy Costs

Having insight into vehicle state of charge and the ability to efficiently coordinate charging sessions empowers fleet managers to make more cost-effective decisions, especially for businesses with long-distance routes. For example, a vehicle that has enough energy to return to home base can charge overnight — when utility rates are lowest — instead of filling up at a charging station in the field during peak times.  

Cost savings can be further optimized if you’ve implemented an adaptive EV charging load management system. By intelligently balancing energy deployment, fleets can avoid peak demand fees from the utility as well as save a significant amount on charger implementation costs by removing the need for extensive infrastructure upgrades.

Driver Behavior

Driver behavior can have a big impact on vehicle performance, and this is especially true for fleet EVs. Telematics monitors key driving metrics like acceleration, braking patterns, and speed — all factors that can affect an electric vehicle. For example, sudden acceleration will deplete a battery more quickly. Hard braking can produce wear and tear. And just like with gasoline-powered vehicles, wind resistance caused by excessive speed results in wasted energy. With telematics, fleet managers can spot bad driver habits as they emerge and retrain employees on best practices.

Harness the Full Power of Your Fleet with PowerFlex X™ Fleet+

Helping you get more value from EV telematics is PowerFlex X Fleet+, which displays telematics data info alongside vehicle schedules, utility rates, facility load, and real-time insights for EV charging — all within a single online dashboard.

‍As Craig Smith, Product Manager at PowerFlex, explains, “It’s about having a holistic view of what’s happening with your fleet. If you don’t have your telematics integrated with us, you’re only getting half of the picture.”

One of the biggest advantages of PowerFlex X Fleet+ is that it’s entirely agnostic; we can partner with your preferred telematics provider to integrate telematics data directly into the dashboard. The data used includes:

  • State of Charge
  • Charging Status
  • GPS (optional)

With PowerFlex X Fleet+, fleet managers gain a unified view of telematics and EV charging system information in a single interface. The dashboard displays all the essential details for electrified fleet vehicles, making for faster, better decisions about your specific charging operations. Ready to take your fleet management to the next level? Contact us for a free demo.