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It’s now only a little while until I get my Better Place electric car as readers of Israellycool have probably noticed. For a few weeks I’ve been using a simulation iPhone app that allows you to measure how much battery you would use if you had been driving an electric car.
The app is called iEV [Updated to point to version 2]. The app is not free but they do offer a limited number of evaluation codes so if you’re interested go to the site and ask them for one. It allows you to pick an electric car (they have most of the main models on the market) and run the app while driving. The app then takes the specs of the car (power, battery size, drag coefficient, weight etc) and calculates the battery use from the GPS derived position and speed as you drive. The app is even smart enough to detect when you’re going up and down hills and a couple of times I’ve seen negative battery use (i.e. energy back into the battery) because when I leave home I go down hill for a little while and an electric car would recover energy from this.
I have managed to use the app whilst driving a test model of the Better Place Renault Fluence ZE to directly check the simulation. It agreed with the onboard battery percentage readings to within 1% over two roughly 12km drives.
Each time you start and stop a journey you need to run the app and hit start. That’s the down side: if you do this for a few days and especially for your regular commute, you get an idea of whether your chosen model can make your journey on one battery charge. The app doesn’t “know” about battery switching (which I’ll have access to here in Israel). My average daily energy use is 4.71kWh which is well below the car’s 22kWh battery size.
However I did take a drive one day that was over 22kWh and so might have required a battery swap. The app reports this on the “History by car” screen by saying whether the car is suitable. Obviously this one trip causes the app to tell me the car won’t work for me when I know different because I would have planned a battery switch (or charged at my destination).
I would agree that if you have to pay for this app, it’s only for the uber-geeky. However I see this tool as something electric vehicle manufacturers and distributors should be giving away to prospective customers. I would certainly like to see Better Place in Israel license this app and distribute it for free so people can get a feeling of how an EV would fit into their personal driving patterns.
And if you want to spice up your simulated life, you can always pretend you’re driving a Tesla Roadster!