EV fleets need complete data on battery state of health

14th August 2020
Alex Lynn

“Fleet managers need complete battery state of health data to effectively operate EV fleets, benefit from extended warranties and understand the second life market,” said Alex Johns, Altelium’s new Business Development Manager

“How can we expect fleet managers to embrace EV if they’ve one hand tied behind their back?” says Alex Johns, business development manager at Altelium, which specialises in lithium ion battery information.

“With a traditional petrol or diesel fleet, there’s a wealth of information available about the vehicles - a full-service history. Yet in the electric vehicle (EV) market, a crucial piece of information is missing – battery state of health - because it is commercially sensitive information.

“This can severely limit the ability of operators to manage fleets efficiently and cost effectively, and further down the line limit their ability to capitalise on the second life market.”

Johns has direct experience having implemented and managed Gatwick and London City Airport’s fleet of electric taxis including 300 self-employed drivers. He also oversaw the trial of Tesla’s electric taxis, which completed 1.5 million miles whilst stationed at Gatwick Airport.

With an EV fleet it is possible to gather information from charging points installed at fleet depots, including the state of the battery charge; total charge time; charging start and end times; the total kilowatts per hour downloaded into the car; the maximum power download during charging; and from the car telematics, the total mileage recorded per charge.

All this is useful information, and fleet managers will be delighted with the fuel efficiency and low emissions which they will be able to enjoy so clearly with their electric fleet.

However, there is an information gap - it’s impossible to determine the battery state of health from these routes. The traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) equivalent would be knowing how much fuel is in the tank and the vehicle’s fuel consumption, but not what price it’s worth second hand based on the engine wear and tear.

“What many fleet managers may not know is that this information can be sourced through Altelium’s technology. A data logger would gather this information – the missing bit - and combine it with the other data coming from the charger and the car telematics,” added Johns.

Altelium was awarded a million plus grant from Innovate UK in 2018 in recognition of its importance in supporting the UK lithium ion market through applied data analytics.

The company’s software uses real life data with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning algorithms, to monitor battery and user behaviour. Its analysis allows fleet managers to have a clearer understanding of how batteries perform under a range of different conditions and prolong battery life.

The data also provides valuable information to help set the resale value based on using the battery cells in a second life as part of a stationary battery storage unit. This market is set to boom following the government’s new planning guidelines relating to large, stationary battery units connected to the national grid, and fleet managers will want to capitalise on it.

Crucially, through Altelium, fleet managers and indeed other EV drivers, are able access information about battery state of health while respecting the intellectual assets of original equipment manufacturers.

Each vehicle battery installed with an Altelium data logger transmits information protected through quantum mechanic cryptography, including battery power, temperature history and charging cycles, to the company’s laboratory. This enhanced level of security means it is impossible to copy the data when encoded through this method.

Battery degradation rates, recorded by the data loggers, are measured in line with the National Measurement Institute standards from the National Physical Laboratory.

These datasets are fed back into Altelium’s self-learning AI helping to give highly accurate predictions on battery state of health and the analysis is accessible by fleet managers through a bespoke dashboard.

“Once fleet managers have a better understanding of battery state of health, they are more fully equipped to manage vehicles as time and cost effectively as possible.

“For example, a fleet manager will be able to identify the best point at which to sell a vehicle by using the data to prove the value of the battery, and its readiness for second life uses in stationary storage, helping to maximise re-sale value and fleet efficiency at the same time.

“Or alternatively, with analysis through the Altelium dashboard, managers can also understand how quickly a battery degrades through DC rapid charging versus AC slow charging, which then may impact potential shift patterns of the vehicle drivers.

“Data enables fleet managers of electric vehicles to really ‘sweat their assets’ with the complete picture of how the vehicle is operating. Everyone should be able to understand the state of health of their vehicles’ batteries and their second life value and this is within their grasp through Altelium,” concluded Johns.

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