The electric vehicle revolution will need better software to keep it running

The climate crisis is already here – and electric mobility is a vital piece of the puzzle; but too rarely discussed is the need for better software to manage electric vehicles, says Aidan McClean, CEO and founder of online EV hire firm, UFODRIVE.

The climate crisis is here, and we are running out of time to avoid catastrophe. Electric vehicles (EVs) are not just an important element of fighting climate change, but also an intrinsic part of a greener, more equitable and generally more pleasant future.

Accessible, smart and dynamic software products are an essential part of the transition to EVs. Without the intelligent use of data and an easy-to-use platform to access it – many consumers, fleet managers, and their drivers will not feel confident enough to make the transition to a greener tomorrow.

In the UK, transport produced 27% of the total emissions in 2019, with 91% of this from road transport vehicles – making cars one the largest single contributors to carbon emissions. But if we are to truly go green, fleets of delivery vehicles, company cars and cars available for hire must also move to electric.

E-commerce, last-mile delivery fleets and traditional couriers contribute to the climate crisis too – and they have a sizable impact on urban air pollution and congestion.

The World Economic Forum’s recent The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem report notes that if current trends continue unabated, the number of delivery vehicles in the largest 100 cities globally will increase by 36% in the next decade – causing a 32% increase in carbon emissions compared to their output today.

In 2019, air pollution killed 1.8 million people globally; it is imperative we do all we can to dramatically reduce that number now that the technology is readily available.

Range anxiety is a common issue with EV users. The fear of being left immobile, stranded, and unable to charge your battery is a common one: Volvo claims that 58% of drivers say that range anxiety is a barrier for going electric.

There is plenty of discussion around the need for more chargers, particularly rapid ones. However, equally important is the need for better accessibility, driven by the latest software and the intelligent use of data.

Whether it’s setting an accurate and up-to-date route for your specific range, time frame and the types of chargers you need, or accessing real-time data about which chargers are available and functioning; easy to use software and real-time data plays an essential role in simplifying access to charging infrastructure and easing the concerns of drivers.

Of course, each new charger helps; we need far more and we need to see and access them along any given route – but the truth is that chargers will never be as convenient as a petrol pump; particularly for a courier with a busy schedule to keep.

This is where the latest software is essential to the ‘behind the scenes’ work at every depot, bay or headquarters. Fleet managers need to know that their charging schedule is optimised – balancing maximum charge for each vehicle, against each vehicle’s requirements, against the requirements of other vehicles that may have a busier schedule tomorrow and need that extra time charging. Furthermore, this all has to be balanced against long-term battery health – as fleet managers will want to know their batteries, and therefore the vehicle, will last.

With electric vehicles being so new, the data we collect about each journey is also vital. Every mile driven can add new insight into the range of each driver, each car, and each battery – providing new possibilities for optimisation.

Electric vehicles will always have to be managed differently from their fossil fuel predecessors – however with good software providing effective and efficient EV fleet management, and a change in mindset that comes with a more forward-thinking approach to charging, they can be equally practical.

EVs are an essential part of our efforts to futureproof the only Earth we have. To overcome both drivers’ and fleet managers’ concerns around range anxiety, there is a lot of work that must be done to reassure them that EV fleets are possible and practical to use every day in every setting. Effective artificial intelligence-driven software and accessible real-time data are an essential part of this transition, as more businesses make the switch to EV fleets to meet their net-zero goals.

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