There is often more to electric driving than expected. There are different plugs, the charging speeds and prices vary and different payment methods and subscriptions are used. A smart route planner that takes all these variables into account could be the solution for fleet managers and planners who struggle with range and loading problems.
Pieter Waller is one of the four founders of route planner Chargetrip. Four years ago, together with three partners, one from the Netherlands and two from Switzerland, he decided to get started with a smart navigation solution for electric cars. “One of the co-founders lived in Norway, the EV country par excellence. But as soon as he drove his car to Sweden, the problems started.”
Electric was not really feasible, according to him. “Because how do you determine the route if you don’t know what you will encounter along the way? We decided to start developing our own platform to come up with a solution to this problem.” Chargetrip develops the technology behind various apps and route planning software that can be built into applications from car manufacturers, charge point operators, charge card providers and fleet operators.
Much more challenges than with combustion engine Planning a route isn’t that big of a challenge if you’re traveling with a combustion engine, Waller says. “As soon as the light in the tank starts flashing, there is always a gas station nearby. With a electric car there are many more challenges.” The algorithm they have developed takes this into account. “Think of the energy consumption of a specific model, at a specific time and on a specific route.”
Temperature, other weather conditions, altitude, traffic on the road, load and driving style are also taken into account in this calculation. “And of course the availability of charging stations along the way. Are they in use or is there a malfunction? Do you prefer a particular provider or do you have a specific subscription? That is also taken into account.” Ultimately, a route is created that is adapted to the driver’s personal preferences and the circumstances.
Giant differences Waller is particularly surprised at the ease with which money is spent on charging electric cars. “Petrol prices are sky-high at the moment and the whole of the Netherlands is standing on its hind legs. But for charging an EV, the prices are hardly compared. While there are huge differences here. I find that really incomprehensible. The math can look very different depending on where you’re charging along the way. In short, it is really important to have insight into this.”
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Continuous development After building up four years of experience, Chargetrip can now determine a specific route for almost three hundred EV models, which takes into account the properties of the respective model. The EV Routing Engine is sold as a SaaS API (Programming Interfaces for Software-as-a-Service). “Together with Norsk Elbilforening – say the Norwegian ANWB – we have launched an EV route app in the most mature market for electric cars worldwide. The EV route planner of the ANWB also runs on our API. We partnered with Porsche to build the Charge Map to help drivers break down the barriers to switching to an EV. In Germany, our solution is integrated in the EnBW Mobility + app, from a large energy company in Württemberg.”
According to Waller, the Netherlands is a country that is ideally suited for electric mobility. “Compared to Norway, which is the absolute leader worldwide in terms of percentage of EVs, our country has far fewer challenges. The distances with us are much shorter, the density of charging stations is much greater and the weather conditions are much less extreme. You really don’t have to worry about getting stranded in the Netherlands with an empty battery.”
Removing challenges For It can sometimes be difficult for fleet managers and planners to get a grip on their fleet in terms of range and charging options. “That is sometimes not easy, with many different types of models and brands, each of which has its own characteristics. If a vehicle not only has to get from A to B, but then also to C and D, it becomes a nice puzzle. Our platform ensures that the journeys are carried out without any problems and that this is done at low cost, whereby a mix can be found between public charging points and charging stations behind the gate.”
EV-routing According to Waller, it will become increasingly important as more consumers and companies switch to electric cars. “Providing a good solution for determining your route and recharging along the way is the holy grail in my opinion. The market will continue to develop and smart navigation will be of great importance for the continued success of electric driving worldwide.”
Pieter Waller is one of the speakers during the Van Expo Congress on Wednesday 24 November at Expo Haarlemmermeer.
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