2011 Nissan LEAF iPhone AppEnlarge Photo
If you drive an electric car, the chances are you’ve experienced at some point the fear that your car will run out of charge before you reach your destination, otherwise known as range anxiety.
But what about the fear that the battery pack in your new electric car will suffer rapid degradation in the amount of charge it can hold?
If that sounds familiar, you’ll be pleased to know that you’re not alone: even electric automakers are keeping tight tabs on how electric cars and their battery packs perform.
Here’s how just three automakers, Nissan, General Motors, and Tesla, are using remote monitoring to help customers keep their plug-in cars healthy and to improve electric car technology.
If you’ve purchased an all-electric car in the past few years, it probably comes with a smart Internet-connected informatics system that enables you to monitor your car’s state of charge, pre-heat the cabin and even unlock the doors via a smartphone app.
But while companies like General Motors, Nissan, and Tesla offer customers basic connectivity to their cars to make owning and charging an electric car easier, the two-way connection enables automakers to delve even deeper, monitoring your car’s systems 24 hours a day.
Keeping an eye out
Nissan Leaf Carwings feature
Nissan Leaf Carwings featureEnlarge Photo
As Nissan Executive Vice President for Research and Development Mitsuhiko Yamashita recently disclosed, Nissan is using the Carwings system found in every Nissan Leaf to monitor how Leafs are performing around the world.
Provided the owner has consented, Nissan is using the data to help it improve on existing electric car and battery design.
“Leaf drivers don’t know that they are connected, but our system is watching them everywhere, every time - what’s happening to the car, is there any kind of problem, what is the battery status or whatever,” Mitsuhiko said. “We are monitoring it.”
LIke Nissan, General Motors uses its OnStar system to collect data about the Chevrolet Volts on the road.
Connected by default, OnStar collects data from each car, allowing GM to real-world data about the plug-in hybrid is being used.
That data, however, stays within GM, which uses it to keep an eye out for potential problems and improve on next-generation plug-in cars.
“Our customer’s privacy is paramount to us,” said Paul Pebbles, Business Service Manager for Fleet - Volt at OnStar. “We don’t share [data] with any third parties, we don’t share with any others. One of the advantages of OnStar in general is that we get a deep understanding of how cars perform in the real world.”