Automakers are among the largest companies using IoT technology, particularly for electric vehicles (EVs). The world has entered the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), connected cars and digital infrastructures. Many science fiction concepts of the last century are now physically possible.
Here are some of the most interesting IoT projects for electric vehicles that are paving the way to a sustainable future.
Understanding the Need for EV Connectivity
An EV or any other type of car can be connected to the internet through wireless IoT devices. These sensors can be applied to various parts of a car to track performance. One of the reasons industrial companies are investing in electric vehicles with IoT is to cut energy and transportation costs.
A major advantage to a connected car is that its software can be updated automatically online. The sensors communicate real-time data to the driver, but some new electric models have automated self-correcting features. IoT devices monitor fluid levels and the condition of individual EV components. When there's a problem detected from IoT data collection, the system alerts the driver. A connected car allows a technician to diagnose a car problem quickly.
Numerous IoT projects for electric vehicles have emerged in recent years. In October 2022 Sony and Honda announced their collaborative plan to sell EVs in the United States and Japan starting in early 2026. The joint venture called Sony Honda Mobility Inc. will accept pre-orders in 2025. This synergetic relationship consists of Sony's expertise with sensors, imaging, networking and entertainment, and Honda's automotive manufacturing and sales expertise, as well as advances in mobile technology.
How IoT Helps EV Drivers
- Monitors the health and performance of various EV parts
- Provides real-time battery usage data
- Scans the internet to find nearby charging stations
- Utilizes Google Maps for route tracking
- Generates a detailed charging report
- Telematics devices track driver behavior
Making Connected Cars Secure
It's actually possible for a hacker to hack into a car's software. But some electric car makers are embracing blockchain technology as a form of robust cybersecurity. Google's autonomous car has helped demonstrate that blockchain does indeed add a strong cybersecurity layer. Blockchain keeps data secure by compartmentalizing it in blocks and encrypting it.
Studying the Market for Connected EVs
There's a growing market for connected EVs for sustainability reasons such as reducing energy costs and cutting greenhouse gases. As many new EVs are priced in the $30,000 to $60,000 range, there's a growing demand for greener solutions among transportation companies. A recent Geotab study revealed that 78 percent of fleet managers plan on going electric with over half of their products within this decade.
Global investment in IoT-powered technology is expected to soon surpass $1 trillion. IoT adds a safety element for using multiple self-driving or remote vehicles.
During the pandemic, many automotive companies faced production and sales declines. EV sales, however, increased by 20 percent year over year, according to the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles. Tesla has emerged as the sector's leader, but now faces a crowd of competitors that are sharpening its focus on producing EVs in the near future.
How EVs Contribute to Sustainability
The projected exponential growth of EVs in the next decade points to businesses and society getting more in tune with sustainable solutions. The production methods for building IoT cars also embrace sustainability, as manufacturers are learning how to improve operational efficiency by placing IoT devices throughout the assembly line. Here are other ways EVs promote sustainability:
- Emissions-free: EVs are powered by electricity, which doesn't harm the environment. Although the production of lithium-ion batteries used in EVs has environmental concerns, the end product does not pollute. Scientists are working on developing cleaner power alternatives.
- Less Maintenance: Since the most advanced EVs have many automated self-healing features, there's less need to take them to an auto shop for general maintenance. One of the reasons EVs don't require as much maintenance is that they don't have as many moving parts as a traditional gas-powered vehicle. The main power components of an EV are the motor, inverter and onboard charger.
- Renewable Energy: Instead of polluting the environment with finite fossil fuel resources, EVs can be charged with solar energy. Many EVs, however, are charged by grid energy at the moment. Solar is expected to play a much more significant role with EVs in the future. For now, at least lithium-ion batteries can be recycled.
- Freedom from High Gas Prices: High gas and oil prices contribute directly to slowdowns in business development. Gas got so expensive at points during the pandemic, that it forced many companies to embrace the work-at-home model. Companies that own a fleet of EVs aren't as disrupted by high gas prices.
EV Projects for the Future
Future electric cars will no doubt be powered by something cleaner than lithium-ion batteries. Hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars may become a factor in cleaner energy designs. For now, lithium-ion batteries for EVs and hybrids are the most efficient energy storage solution.
Some of the solar experiments underway for future projects involve discovering more energy-efficient ways of harnessing endless energy from the sun. Some EVs already use solar panels for backup power. Tesla offers home solar panels made of durable tempered glass that provide sufficient electric charge for its vehicles. Another popular EV, the Nissan Leaf, is partially powered by a solar panel.
On the horizon, there are dozens of manufacturers set to compete in the emerging EV market. Traditional automakers such as Ford, GM and Volkswagen are planning on issuing multiple EV models throughout the 2020s. Other automakers going electric include Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Volvo, Jaguar, Hyundai, Kia and Subaru. Newer automakers devoted to making EVs include Rivian, Lucid Motors, Nikola and Canoo. Meanwhile, Proterra is developing emissions-free, battery-electric buses.
IoT can play a major role in EV evolution, although it's still not universally embraced across the automotive sector or even by EV makers. The global market size of the automotive IoT market, according to Netscribes Market Research Report, will surpass $106 billion by late 2023. An indication that the shift to IoT-enabled electric cars will be more than just a trend is that governments around the world are investing in both EVs and IoT.
Many modern urban planners view IoT as essential to build sustainable smart cities. The more connected cars are integrated with a smart infrastructure, the more traffic control officials can identify and resolve traffic problems. Technical complexity, costs and privacy concerns are key reasons why not all automakers are on board with IoT. But once IoT is widely adopted as a standard, it's likely automakers will be more receptive to IoT integration. IoT sensors definitely help transportation companies gain efficiency.