Using one of the latest vehicle tracking systems will help you get the most effective use from your fleet of electric vehicles. It’s just as essential as with petrol or diesel fleet – obviously, instead of fuel consumption you have range (based on electric charge) as one of the key metrics, along with location, drive time and delivery stop times.

In fact, when it comes to electric vehicle tracking systems, it would be quicker to list what isn’t available on the market rather than what is! There is a vast choice of kit ranging from a simple dashboard tracker to advanced all-singing and all-dancing tech which can provide location updates and real-time telematics reporting. This allows businesses to crunch data about electric charge, vehicle speeds and even driving behaviour.

Options for Fleet Managers and Business Buyers

For fleet managers and business purchasers, one of the key questions is which tracking system is going to be right for your business or your company vehicle? The answer to this depends upon what type of company or business you are running. Find out more about functionality of vehicle tracking systems

Let’s take a look at some examples of how tracking technology can help. For a start, it can benefit any type of business that needs to know exactly where each vehicle is in real time. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Dispatch the nearest vehicle to a customer pick up or order, real time data that factors in hold ups and traffic delays
  • Use tracking technology to maximise route efficiency and re-route vehicles to respond to demand or unexpected problems
  • Keep your customers happy with up-to-date and realistic communications which can be set up automatically from the vehicle to their phone or device without human intervention
  • Locate nearby charge points
  • Make the most effective use of the remaining charge by comparing route distance, speed and more.

How do tracking systems work?

At the heart of any vehicle tracking system is a GPS locator that uses satellites to locate their position to within a few metres almost anywhere in the world.

Aside from the core positioning system, tracking systems are split into two different types:

  • Active tracking systems – these gather information in real time which is available to managers via an online interface, updates are live. Find out more about active vehicle tracking systems
  • Passive tracking – information is collected and downloaded for later use and evaluation. There is useful data about efficiency which can help lower fuel costs and improve safety. Find out more about passive vehicle tracking systems

How vehicle tracking systems support an electric vehicle fleet

One of the key advantages of marrying tracking systems and EVs (Electric Vehicles) is the ability to plan routes to take account of both range and recharge time and location.

This is not something fleet managers have had to worry about nearly as much with conventional fuel vehicles but is a real factor when it comes to planning the journeys for EVs.

Vehicle tracking systems functionality

Understanding what is available from different tracking systems will help you make a better choice for your particular business or user group. Here are some of the key advantages which vehicle tracking systems can offer.

Charge usage/Fuel economy

GPS tracking allows better planning of routes particularly when there are last minute changes due to roadworks or unexpected diversions. Plan routes at your leisure and then monitor whether your drivers are sticking to those predetermined plans

Driver behaviour

This can be as simple as encouraging drivers to drive in a fuel-efficient way so no unnecessary sharp acceleration or braking, through to monitoring poor driving behaviour which could lead to costly accidents and insurance claims. Many tracking systems will monitor both fuel consumption and CO2 emission on conventional fuel vehicles

Route planning

Essential for HGVs which can be restricted by size and weight to certain roads and also for Electric Vehicles which are limited by their range and also by the location of charge points, making route planning super essential for this new vehicle technology. Most route planning functionality also features geofencing as an integrated standard which means that managers can be alerted in real time when a vehicle departs from a designated route

Vehicle penalties

If you still have fuel driven vehicles in your fleet then you may find they could be subject to quite onerous fines in some city centre areas which are designated ULEZ areas, this stands for Ultra Low Emissions Zone. Vehicles that don’t measure up to the emissions standards face hefty fines in central London in the region of £111 per day! Good route planning can make sure you don’t inadvertently stray into a traffic zone where your vehicle/s will be penalised

Telematics

Most people have heard of this in connection with the black box facility for new teenage motorists. Telematics allows a third party to review driving behaviour. Fleet managers will be interested in workers who speed as this can incur penalties or cause accidents, but hard braking and fast acceleration will also be of concern as this is not fuel efficient and causes undue wear and tear on parts and components like tyres and brake pads directly impacting fleet management costs

Journey data

Active or passive vehicle tracking systems can let you have journey data which can help verify mileage and fuel claims from employees

Are vehicle tracking systems an invasion of employee or worker privacy?

Some employees might certainly feel as if they are being spied on. If you have EVs then it might make tracking software more palatable to link the installation of tracking systems to the range of the car and the charge points which are a genuine concern for many people who drive EVs.

That said, there are laws about the type of information you can obtain, what you do with it and how you store it. How you collect, manage and use this type of positioning and tracking data should be described in your company’s employment contract and privacy policy.

First of all, the data that GPS tracking devices can gather about the workforce is classified as personal data, so it has to be dealt with in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations or GDPR.

Secondly, your employees must know that there is tracking software and hardware on the vehicle and have given their consent to being tracked and tracking can only be undertaken during working hours.

Most companies only want to use tracking software and hardware to improve efficiencies and maximise economies. It is important to pitch this to employees and will reduce their hostility towards it – no-one wants to feel as if they are being watched.

What’s in a vehicle tracking system ?

It depends what you buy and what you buy will depend upon your business needs.

Some suppliers offer hardware or software or both, packages can be fairly basic or you can purchase a top notch integrated system with lots of functionality.

The key factors to consider before you make your choice of tracking system are:-

  • The size of your company or organisation
  • The type of industry your business in involved in
  • The functionalities required for your specific activities

Don’t make the mistake of buying a tracking system which is designed for something your business is not or is designed for a larger organisation with complex functionality you just won’t use. Identify the purpose/s for fitting tracking systems and the features which you will use in your business.

Features of a standard vehicle tracking system

  • A basic in-car tracking device which is powered by the car’s battery
  • Covert GPS tracker which is hidden under the chassis and is designed to be tamper proof – these can be activated and managed remotely
  • Fleet management software to view and evaluate the data
  • A telematics black box

Advanced vehicle tracking systems are a whole different ballgame. Here are some of the features they offer:-

  • Live location status via GPS
  • Mileage data
  • Historical route records
  • Geofencing to ensure vehicles stick to designated routes and alerts when they don’t
  • Route optimisation and easy scheduling with real-time data to make adjustments and changes, a piece of cake maximising both staff and vehicle efficiency to keep customers happy
  • Driver behaviour which can alert managers to wasteful or even dangerous driving habits
  • Instant driver messaging to alert them to new jobs or a change of route
  • Service and maintenance diagnostics and reminders
  • Charge point integration
  • Sat nav compatibility
  • A mobile app to keep an eye on what’s going on when you are out and about
  • Driver ID so you can easily match driving data to staff identification
  • Helpful traffic and weather updates

Whatever business you are part of and whether you are a fleet manager with responsibility for lots of vehicles or a sole business user who is self-employed, tracking systems can help make your business better. The key is to identify the functionality and features you really need and which will make a difference rather than paying for expensive kit that you never make use of.

Pricing can be a little opaque as many companies quote on an individual basis so it can be hard to gather data on basic costs online. However, some companies will offer discounts for bulk orders which can benefit larger organisations looking to fit tracking systems to lots of vehicles.

Top Tips to make the best choice of tracking system

  • What data do you want to collect and what do you want to do with it?
  • How many vehicles do you need to keep track of?
  • What support do you need from your system provider? Think about customer service support, reputation and testimonials and how long the contracts tie you in for
  • What are the real benefits to your business? If there aren’t many then perhaps you are not using the right tracking system