Fleet managers tend to be conservative in their decision-making and need proof that any changes that are made are financially viable. That’s the basic idea behind SwitchMyFleet, a powerful online evaluation tool for businesses considering transitioning their fleet from internal combustion engines (ICE) to electrified vehicles. The tool was developed by a team at Critchlow Geospatial in Wellington, New Zealand. Development of the tool began in September 2020 after receiving funding from NZ’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) Low Emissions Vehicle Contestable Fund (LEVCF). The online tool launched in early February 2021, a remarkably short time to market for a computer program that relies on complex GPS data and vehicle simulation algorithms.
Recognition of the value of the idea has come quickly. SwitchMyFleet was the winner in the Location-Based Services category at the Geospatial World Innovation Awards 2021 held in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Geospatial World Innovation Awards are “a tribute to the ongoing efforts towards building a better, more sustainable future through the use of cutting-edge geospatial technology.”
The EECA is an NZ government/Crown agency responsible for promoting energy efficiency and conservation and encouraging, support and promoting energy efficiency, energy conservation, and the use of renewable sources of energy. “We are pleased that Critchlow Geospatial has been recognized at a global level for their team’s ability to bring together the physics of moving vehicles, New Zealand geospatial data, and route optimization algorithms to build a free online tool to enable our transport sector to make the transition from ICE to electric, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving costs,” said Richard Briggs, Manager, Transport Portfolio, at EECA in a news release.
Critchlow Geospatial developed SwitchMyFleet to increase the pace at which New Zealand businesses transition to electric vehicles, demonstrating the viability of electric vans and trucks in each business’ unique situation. SwitchMyFleet is a free, easy-to-use tool that balances time, distance, and energy use to calculate the metrics that fleet operators and transport businesses need to build their business cases for transition.
Behind the Scenes
Behind that easy-to-use interface, however, SwitchMyFleet is powered by authoritative address and 3-dimensional road network data from NationalMap (a 3-dimensional road network data set) and a series of complex algorithms that balance time, distance, and energy use:
- 2.3 million physical addresses in New Zealand
- Over 118,000 kilometers of navigation quality road network from NationalMap
- Digital Elevation Model, developed using LiDAR at 1-meter intervals (where available)
- Travel speeds for all road segments from NationalMap
- Aerodynamics and rolling resistance by vehicle type
- Gradients and regenerative braking factors
- Acceleration parameters by road segment length
- Varying loads for multiple drop-offs or pickup points
The combination of all these complex datasets and algorithms with the user’s real-world fleet configuration and route inputs makes SwitchMyFleet powerfully practical and unique. Because the information entered into SwitchMyFleet reflects the actual, real-world operating environment of their business provides users with the assurance needed that these comparison metrics can be confidently used to build the business case to transition their own fleet to EVs.
SwitchMyFleet users can also easily test different vehicle types and battery sizes to determine their specific requirements and then forecast and compare the operating costs of conventional vehicles and commercial EVs.
New Zealand is a particularly useful place to test an electrification optimization program. Its hilly terrain and combination of rural countryside, suburban areas, and inner-city challenges allow for a broad range of scenarios that can be applied to other parts of the world.
“When we designed SwitchMyFleet, we did so with a clear view to helping New Zealand fleet operators ‘right size’ their EV fleets to make the path to transition from internal combustion engines easier, but we also knew that there was huge potential in bringing a successful solution to international markets as well,” said Critchlow Geospatial’s Group Managing Director, Steve Critchlow. “This award is fantastic recognition and a real validation of the potential for SwitchMyFleet to have a global impact, one that can help accelerate not only New Zealand but the whole world, towards more sustainable transport systems,”
SwitchMYFleet can be accessed for free (registration required) by clicking here.
Full Disclosure: The author of this story, Kevin Clemens, worked as a technical consultant to Critchlow Geospatial on the EV algorithms used to calculate energy consumption for the SwitchMyFleet project.
Kevin Clemens is a Senior Editor with Battery Technology.