February 18, 2020

Ford identifies most beneficial places to locate EV charging points

In an effort to allay concerns about a lack of convenient charging stations for electric vehicles, Ford have identified the most beneficial places to locate new rapid-charging points.

Data scientists at the company have developed an algorithm, based on more than 1 million kilometres of driving data and including where vehicles actually stopped, to pinpoint the places that could help drivers integrate charging within their operating patterns, rather than making special journeys to out-of-the way locations.

Following analysis in Greater London, the team concluded that it would be possible to significantly improve access to on-the-go charging through deploying a relatively small number of strategically positioned rapid-charging stations.

John Scott, project lead, City Data Solutions, Ford Mobility said: “Being able to harness, analyse and leverage the huge amounts of data that is available through existing vehicle use can make a real difference to how easy we find it to get about in the cities of the future.”

“We at Ford are committed to delivering smart vehicles for a smart world – including electric vehicles that will contribute to cleaner, quieter towns and cities. But we also want to try to use data to help improve investment efficiency into the necessary infrastructure to support that approach.”

As part of its Ford City Data Solutions Report, published in December 2018, Ford fitted 160 connected vans with a plug-in device to record journey data.

With the consent of participants, this generated more than 500 million data points, from more than 15,000 days of vehicle use. Ford’s Global Data Insight and Analytics team were then able to identify where charging points would be most useful to a fleet.

Although the vehicles in the trial were not electric, it was possible to understand their operation and forecast their ability to access charge points as if they were.

By seeing where vehicles travelled, where they parked and for how long, they could identify ways in which charging could be integrated within regular journeys, especially for businesses whose drivers might make multiple stops, for example, to make deliveries.

It is an approach that Ford says it envisages could be extended to further cities, enabling them to more effectively plan how to spend their infrastructure budget.

From a separate London fleet trial involving 20 Transit Custom plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) vans, Ford also found that fleets operated in pure electric mode for 35 per cent of their time on the road, increasing to 45 per cent in Greater London, and to 68 per cent in central London.

The Transit Custom on sale this year will be the only hybrid in the one-tonne van class, to be joined by the plug-in Tourneo Custom eight-seat people carrier.

During their trial – based on 80,000km of PHEV fleet mileage – no use of public charging facilities was observed. Vehicles were instead charged either at depots or at home. Furthermore, on average, vehicles started the day with only 45 per cent charge, underlining the value that charging points en route could add. It was also found that operators became more adept at effectively charging vehicles, predominately at their depots, as time went on.

Rapid-charging stations can provide up to 80 per cent battery charge in 30 to 40 minutes. It is expected that worldwide, electric vehicles will account for a third of all fleets by 2040. But there are already concerns around a shortfall in the provision of charging points.

“Electrification changes the way we drive – and refuel – our vehicles,” continued Scott.

“We realise that charging time and behaviour are fundamentally different for electric vehicles compared with traditional models, where refilling with petrol or diesel may take only five minutes. In locating these additional charging points, we’ve attempted to take into account regular driving and stopping patterns so that topping up slots into drivers’ regular day-to-day activities.”