The Automotive Industry Develops Telematics Systems For Electric Cars

As long as charging stations are rare, they should be easy to find. However, electric vehicle-specific telematics systems are still in their infancy.

The electrical engineer, who once developed cell phones at Siemens himself, stares patiently at the small display. The connection is bad. It takes time for the card to be established. But then you can see several electric charging stations, the next less than 1 km away.

The HTML5 application developed by T-Systems in cooperation with Continental is a prototype currently only available in 20 vehicles within the Vorarlberg large-scale “Vlotte” test. It can do much more than showing the way to the next charging station. In this way, the user can keep an eye on the charge status of his vehicle and the resulting range at all times. To a limited extent, the driver can also operate charging management with the app. E.g., For example, pretend that the car at home is generally only charged at night, provided that a cheaper night-time electricity tariff is offered, as in Austria.

The Market Does Not Currently Offer Any Electric Car-Specific Telematics Systems

The Conti app may be a big step forward for the Vorarlbergers’ fleet, mainly consisting of Think’s simple electric cars. Nevertheless, it reveals a major deficit: there are currently no telematics systems with functions specific to electric cars on the market. At trade fairs, there are always demonstrators that offer reliable route planning depending on the electric range and the charging options – but they are not available in any car.

Permanently installed navigation systems show the locations of electric charging stations and calculate the route to them. Overland trips become a risk, however, since there is no real-time information on whether a charging station is defective or occupied. It also remains unclear whether you can even pay at a charging station from a provider you have no contract with.

The devices and functions do not exist in the car because all charging stations’ status data is not completely available. The individual operator sees faults immediately, but there is no platform to exchange the data.

Telematics Systems Are To Network 80,000 Charging Stations Via Data Roaming

The European research project “Green E-Motion” comes in, which links ten model regions in eight countries – from Bornholm to Malaga – with one another. The mega project, where around 80,000 charging stations are to be networked by the end of 2015, is led by Siemens researcher Heike Barlag. It aims to create a marketplace with standardized interfaces that will enable Europe-wide data roaming.

It’s a long way to get there. With today’s simple search functions, you don’t know whether the charging station even fits your vehicle. For example, an electric smart cannot be refueled at a quick charging station that works with the Japanese Chademo standard.

The joint venture Hubject, which Daimler jointly founded with BMW, Bosch, Siemens, and the energy suppliers EnBW and RWE, is to find a way out. The alliance wants to create an open platform that can even reserve charging spaces in advance.

Telematics Systems Only Possible With Standardized Data Transmission Paths

Substantial development work is necessary above all in the standardization of data transmission. A European standard is already emerging for communication between the vehicle and the charging station, based on Powerline, the transfer via the power grid. However, the protocols for communication between the charging station and the operator’s servers currently differ greatly.

“So far, every charging station infrastructure has been a closed system. Something has to happen”. “Electromobility benefits from standards since individual solutions only make the whole thing complicated and expensive.”

As long as the standards and the large IT systems do not exist, pragmatism is required. In addition to the app, the “AutoLinQ” system from Continental is technically based primarily on a small black box consisting of a cellular module, a GPS receiver unit, and an interface to the vehicle CAN bus. “Proven hundreds of thousands of times.” So far, the boxes have mainly been used in South America to locate stolen vehicles. Continental would therefore only need twelve months for series development.

Also Read: Are Smart Cars Really Better?

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