Smart Transport

'Data is the fuel of the new economy. It will help us electrify and enable the future of mobility' - Geotab

Author: David Savage (pictured), regional manager, UK and Ireland, Geotab

Data is the fuel of the new economy. We have an opportunity, and data will help us electrify and enable the future of mobility.

Why is data important?

Now more than ever the access to data is and will continue to be critical in monitoring the pulse of the economy. Therefore, openness and collaboration of expertise will be the catalyst in getting the most out of what data is available to us.

For example, the Department of Transport recently called for data to assist their response to COVID, but also to map out the future UK transport strategy. 

Data is the lifeline for fleets with the ability to measure and manage productivity, compliance, safety and more. But, leveraging vehicle data is more than just for fleet analysis, it can inform decisions on a micro and macro level.

Still electrifying?

Since the UK went into lockdown on 23 March, all fleet activity has declined substantially.

As a result, the environment has taken a well-earned rest. We have seen a significant drop in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, the data shows declines of a third to a half in London, Birmingham, and Cardiff due to reduction in road traffic across the UK. 

Electric vehicles (EVs) emit fewer emissions over the lifecycle of a vehicle over an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. Even in a worst-case scenario, EVs emit 30 percent fewer emissions, and up to two-thirds in the best case - creating an opportunity to clean up the transport network. 

Notably, clean air zones due to be introduced in 2020 such as in Birmingham, Bath and Leeds have been delayed until at least 2021 due to a shift in priorities.

Fleet operators and businesses have the opportunity to position themselves in a forward-facing direction and focus on what matters the most.

Research suggests that fleet operators remain on track to transition to EVs, with over 75 percent saying they will in the near future.

We do know that the upfront costs of EVs are an obstacle primarily due to the cost of the battery.

The costs of EV batteries per KWh has declined by over 85 per cent in the last eight years - slowing the gap towards price parity with ICE vehicles.

However, taking the costs over the vehicle life, EVs can provide a cost-competitive solution due to a significant reduction in fuel and maintenance costs.

A potential game-changer is the new benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax, last year BIK tax for an EV was 16 per cent.

However, as of April this year the BIK rate for zero-emissions vehicles drops to 0, rising to 1 in 2021/22 and 2 per cent in 2022/23.

At Geotab, we leverage fleet data to evaluate whether EVs are a viable option to fleet operators.

The EV recommendations are based on range, the total cost of ownership and vehicle emissions.

The key driver in bringing this to market is the ability to bring real-life fleet data to the table, and use it to ensure the transition to electric is a seamless process.

Similarly, EV battery health is a real concern, particularly battery degradation over time.

We are now able to create best practices to preserve health throughout the lifetime of the vehicle.

We know that a number of things can affect battery life, these include temperature, operating at low and high state-of-charge and use of various types of charging infrastructure.

Having oversight over these parameters can go a long way in preserving EV batteries.

But, we are just scratching the surface with EVs, it is not just another fleet vehicle, the dynamics are far different than ICE vehicles.

New technologies such as vehicle-to-grid use EVs as battery storage facilities to help manage electricity grid loads.

Furthermore, second-hand EV batteries are being repurposed to increase our battery storage capacity - all of which are driven by actionable data insights.

A data-driven future

Entering the market are new modes of mobility. For example, in London, Citymapper enables users to view various modes in one platform. Similarly, ride-hailing and car-sharing are increasingly becoming commonplace. 

According to SMMT, all new vehicles will be connected by 2026.

Connectivity is the fuel for all new modes and platforms emerging. However, to be successful, social, economic, and political factors will need to be aligned - furthermore, data will need to be accessible and secure.

A dominant player in this field, ultimately, may not have the effects on the economy as we would like, sharing may be the answer.

With data and collaboration, we have the potential to create a transport network that is electric and efficient that speaks to both the biggest challenges in cities today, emissions and congestion.

About the author

David Savage is the regional manager, UKI for Geotab; the world’s largest commercial telematics company.

He runs the operational, commercial and organisational activities of the region with accountability for the delivery of the overall strategy, and realise ambitious growth targets in support of a European push by the business.

Prior to joining Geotab he was the UK general manager for FreeNow, Europe’s leading e-hailing app.


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