Telematics has a vital role to play in helping operators make the shift from ICE to electric vehicles, and Bridgstone Mobility Solutions, with its Webfleet platform, is at the forefront of this movement.

A recent innovation is an EV route optimisation feature, which helps businesses to plan routes for drivers, taking into account battery levels, capacity, average energy consumption, and charger locations, with the supply of data on battery levels at the start and end of each trip allowing operators to assess battery capacity alongside energy usage to identify when charging sessions took place.

Webfleet Optidrive assesses driver behaviour data so that it can be used to improve performance efficiency and reports detail a breakdown of energy used when driving or for other purposes, such as the powering of auxiliary equipment.

Beverly Wise, Webfleet regional director for Bridgestone, gave What Van? an insight into how far along the road to electrification the LCV sector has come.

“The capabilities of electric vans are becoming ever more impressive – a fact recently highlighted by Webfleet’s Guiness World Record for the greatest distance travelled by an electric van on a single charge. A Fiat E-Scudo successfully travelled 311 miles, averaging 4.5 miles per kilowatt hour (kWh),” she says.

“Ranges of more than 200 miles per charge have become commonplace, which many businesses will find more than sufficient for urban and regional delivery tasks.”

She points out, though, that operators must still balance their payload and range requirements.

“The gap between e-LCVs and conventional ICE vans has narrowed but, despite the advancements, electric vans still have a lower payload capability.”

Webfleet’s fleet electrification planning report can help businesses assess whether electric vans would be feasible for their requirements.

When it comes to relying on public charging networks, Wise says eLCV operators are at the mercy of their geographical location.

“Urban areas with growing networks are more likely to be able to support eLCVs than rural regions, where coverage can be less reliable. Van drivers, in rural areas in particular, will often travel distances that exceed their mileage range,” Wise observes.

While the public charging infrastructure remains patchy, Wise expresses confidence that the rate of installation is accelerating and says telematics systems’ EV route optimisation functionality can enable businesses to plan routes for drivers that take account of their battery levels, range capacity, average energy consumption and charge point locations. 

According to Zapmap data, the UK has now hit the 50,000 public charging point landmark and at the current rate of installation is on track to have double this number of public charging devices by August 2025.

 Wise says public chargers are particularly important for owner-drivers and SMEs because they are less likely than larger fleets to be able to install their own charging facilities.

“With their own charging stations,  [large] businesses can take advantage of lower energy rates during off-peak times or even integrate renewable energy sources,” she points out.

Wise adds that insights garnered from fleet management tools can help companies determine what infrastructure their fleet is likely to rely upon by revealing where vehicles spend most time and what their typical mileage is.

Wise acknowledges the role legislation plays in driving the shift to electrification.

“Government levers are a crucial stimulus for change, with mandated targets being among the most powerful tools at its disposal,” she maintains.

She points out, however, that the government’s decision to delay the ban on ICE vans until 2035 and to make changes to the targets set within the ZE Mandate for electric vans (the share of sales of 19% in 2025 was cut to 16%, while the 2026 target was increased from 22% to 24%) have not been widely welcomed by the industry.

“Whether or not the shifting of these goalposts is a pragmatic move or a misstep remains open for debate. Either way, regulations can only work if they’re supported by strategies that incentivise EV ownership, efforts to improve our charging infrastructures, and by initiatives that encourage investment into e-mobility,” says Wise.

Being able to accurately gauge total cost of ownership is vital for operators planning to transition to BEVs, Wise argues, and could tip the balance towards renting or leasing vans rather than outright purchase.

“Businesses need to carefully consider the cost benefits of all finance options when looking to make the electric transition,” she says. 

“For some businesses, the rapid pace of technological advancements in electric vehicle technology – which may risk rendering newly purchased EV outdated relatively quickly – could make short- or mid-term term lease deals an attractive proposition. 

This offers them the flexibility to upgrade to newer models at the end of the lease term.”

It is clear information gathered about EV use from telematics data has a key role to play in empowering businesses to make decisions about the best route to take towards zero-emissions.

Trakm8 provides EV insight 

Trakm8 is facilitating the shift of commercial fleets towards electric vans with its EV telematics solutions by helping fleet managers meet challenges such as range anxiety.

Trakm8 provides real-time monitoring of the electric van’s battery status, range, and charging data, allowing fleet managers to plan routes efficiently, ensuring
vans are always within range of charging stations, thus minimising downtime and optimising driving schedules. With Trakm8’s Insight platform fleet managers can send an EV charge reminder to the vehicle’s driver if their vehicle’s State Of Charge (SoC) is less than or equal to 50%. The system also provides up-to-date visibility of the UK’s network of charge points. Within the Insight platform fleet managers can get information on charging station locations, availability, number of posts available, connection types, compatibility, and operators’ details. By strategically planning charging stops, fleet managers can eliminate unnecessary delays and maximise the utilisation of electric vans, Trakm8 claims.

Through monitoring the health of EVs, Insight predicts maintenance alerts to ensure potential problems are addressed before they become critical.

Trakm8 says its AI Optimisation algorithm aids the transition to EVs by calculating optimised schedules that reduce driving distance and time through its ability to consider factors including EV vehicle range and charging constraints, such as vehicle capacity, size, weight and width.

In urban environments with Low Emission Zones (LEZs) and Clean Air Zones (CAZs), the algorithm prioritises the deployment of EVs and low-emission vehicles and takes into account constraints like road closures and planned events, such as sporting activities. Additionally, it adapts to LEZ/CAZ time schedules, ensuring compliance with regulations.

Nick Guise, Marketing Manager at Trakm8 says: “Trakm8’s comprehensive solution ensures a smooth and efficient integration of electric vans into commercial fleets, contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future.”

Looking smart

Tech company Y3K has introduced smart-i a range of budget-priced tracking and video telematics solutions. 

Founder Paul Singh claims the products deliver the latest technology at a fraction of the price of existing manufacturers.

Singh says: “Our products are designed to help businesses improve safety, efficiency and compliance, while also reducing costs. We believe that every commercial vehicle and asset should be equipped with video telematics or tracking.”

The range includes: smart-i OBD Tracker (from £59 plus monthly subscription): A compact device that plugs into the OBD-II port of the  vehicle. Equipped with a 4G (with 2G fallback) modem, GPS receiver and back-up battery, it provides both real-time and historical data on location, speed and direction.

smart-i Portable Trackers (from £99 plus monthly subscription) : A range of compact and portable devices that can be magnetically mounted on any asset or vehicle. Weighing from 123g, they provide real-time and historical tracking data, including location, speed and direction.

smart-i Camera Trackers (from £179 plus monthly subscription): A range of single and dual-camera devices that combine tracking, telematics and camera technology in one product. They provide location data, speed, direction, driving style and capture video of the road ahead and vehicle interior, In addition, AI-powered safety features like ADAS and DSM (driver state monitoring) alerts help prevent accidents, analyse driver behaviour and optimise insurance claims with accident footage.

smart-i Web & Mobile Apps: These free-of-charge Apps provide businesses with control over their assets and fleets on iOS or Android smartphone from anywhere. This allows users to track the real-time location of assets and vehicles, generate incident reports, view driver behaviour analytics and receive real-time alerts.