GPS Navigation Device For EVs Could Increase Range By At Least 10%

JUL 22 2012 BY MIKE 9

Thanks to a $95,000 one-year grant from the California Energy Commission, researchers at the University of California, Riverside are in the second stages of developing an EV minded in-car GPS navigation system which its main purpose is to increase the range of your vehicle. To get the increase, the system will take into consideration current traffic information, road condition and grades, and the capacity of your vehicle with your passengers and baggage.


The Center for Environmental Research and Technology, also know as CE-CERT, which is part of the Bourns College of Engineering at UC Riverside, is taking up this task. Guoyuan Wu, an assistant researcher at CE-CERT, said the development of a ec0-routing formula that finds the route requiring the least amount of energy is “particularly useful given the limited range of electric vehicles.” He also added, “it should really help cut down on what has become known as range anxiety.”


Here is a picture of the first generation Eco-Way GPS Navigation system by Earthrise Technology in collaboration with UC Riverside.

The purpose of this project is in part to a study done last year by Matthew Barth and Kanok Boriboonsomsin, the director and research member of CE-CERT, respectively. Their $1.2-million grant last year started the process to figure out the the exact formula and to also acquire mapping help from local developers in the Riverside, California area.


Depending on your EV, the basic ranger can vary drastically depending on so many factors, including heat in Arizona. But for the study, CE-CERT has seen results for a Nissan LEAF vary between 47 and 138 miles, depending on the EPA testing conditions. Although the current navigation unit in the LEAF does have an ETA reading, it does not ensure the minimum energy consumption of your drive. According to the press release, a number of factors that affect vehicle energy consumption include:

  • Traffic conditions: Stop-and-go movement in congested traffic wastes fuel. So, the vehicle energy consumption increases significantly under this traffic condition
  • Road type: Driving patterns on different road types are different. For example, driving on highways often involves cruising at higher speeds. Driving on surface streets often involves more frequent stops due traffic signals, stop signs and more idling. These differences have significant impacts on vehicle energy consumption.
  • Road grade: Climbing a steep road grade requires higher power from the engine to overcome the added gravitational force. This increases vehicle energy consumption.
  • Weight: A vehicle carrying more weight requires more energy to run, thus impacting its energy consumption rate.
  • Weather conditions: Weather conditions have direct and indirect impact on energy consumption. For instance, headwind increases vehicle energy consumption as the vehicle needs additional power to combat the wind drag. And, using the heater or air condition during hot or cold weather also increases energy consumption.

Here is the estimated speed to minimize your power consumption. For this route, the ideal speed is 45 miles per hour, but based on the picture, might be hard on a freeway in southern Cailifornia.

The primary purpose of the grant from the California Energy Commision will be used to collect data in the EVs in a variety of driving conditions, including vehicle speeds, traffic congestion levels, road types, and road grades, all with a range in passengers and equipment weight. CE-CERT is hopeful this information will then be intergrated in an ec0-routing algorithm and prove the study once and for all.


To learn more about this program, check out the latest press release for the University of California, Riverside.

Categories: Battery Tech


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9 Comments on "GPS Navigation Device For EVs Could Increase Range By At Least 10%"

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I categorize energy conservation into two buckets. One that does not change my lifestyle and the others that do. Buying an energy efficient appliance or unplugging infrequently used devices are non lifestyle changes. This GPS is useful, but is borderline on changing lifestyle. It’s all about selecting the right EV that fits your lifestyle. For many, the 75-100 miles EV will do just that without fear of range anxiety. For those whose driving habits and lifestyle are not so simple there are other options. If you owned a Chevy Volt, Chevy Spark, Ford Energi Fusion, Ford Energi C-max, Toyota plug in Prius, Fisker Karma, range anxiety does not exist. Overlooking the heat problems in Arizona with the Nissan Leaf, I have to ask what they planned to do in 6 years from now when the range was certain to diminish? If you purchase a total electric, it should be based on 60%-70% of your driving range, not 90%. This is very important. The whole conversation and focus on range anxiety hurts this industry when there is a large selection of hybrid EVs that extend your range without this concern. I for one never worry where the next charging station is… Read more »

Buying a BEV and doing this planning is like buying an expensive and complex hairstyle. Lots of fussing about to maintain “that look”. The Chevy Volt is for the rest of us who may want to wake up with bed-head and go for a dash to the national park without getting all dolled up and maintaining that beehive or asymetrical over the eye look. Cars shouldn’t require a lifestyle change – the underlying of the Volt allows for that. As Mark says – it fits most people’s lifestyle while offering almost all the benefits of a BEV. I guess that’s why it is now outselling the Leaf by a factor of 3:1 or more.

That is an interesting point. The premise of an advanced nav system is great, but how does the nav account for capacity loss, especially in respect to high problem areas?

Still, I guess some advancement is better than nothing. An integrated altitude estimator would probably be the largest benefit here to EV drivers in unknown location.

I bought a LEAF and of course I planned for capacity loss over time. However, my bet is two fold. First, a robost quick charging infrastructure will be built over time which wil provide me as much range, doing opportunity quick charging, as when the car was new. Second, my bet is that new battery technology, at the module level, will occur. Rather than 500Wh it be 750Wh or more. So in the future, when my range has decrease below an acceptable level, I’ll have some modules replaced in my pack replaced with the new module technology to get me the range I desire. I won’t have to have the entire pack replaced.

I think were problems arise is when the customer is not educated to the limits of the car (whether their own fault, or the fault of the EV maker). The real issue when it comes to capacity loss isn’t whats happening in Phoenix, that is very regional, and the LEAF is performing above expectations for 95% of the country. But rather the issue of concern is that when buyers read the EPA label and see that an EV is expected to travel 73 miles, then they rationalize because their commute is 65 miles, so everything will be fine. For many places, you have cold climate issues that will make this difficult from the start-many are already experiencing this now…but more than that, people tend to not account for the expected 80% loss after 5 years/60,000 miles when purchasing. So, if you only have a spare 10 miles of range when new, your going to be in trouble on the first cold day in year 2 of ownership if you don’t have another vehicle. BMS or not, if your driving a pure BEV and are going to rely on it year round for a specific mileage over 4-5 years, I would… Read more »

I see three reasons a quick charging infrastructure may not expand as people are counting on it happening.

First is the sorry state of our economy. Public financed support is not going to be easy to find.

Second is the poor sales of BEVs. Given the bad economy, BEVs are in the position of being the chicken with charging infrastructure the egg. If BEV sales continue to bog down, privately financed support for expanding the infrastructure will dry up.

Third is the presence and sales success of extended range EVs. These could be the final nails to the coffin for infrastructure expansion programs, as they do not need nor are they reliant upon a public charging infrastructure.

You write as if no one with a PHEV would use a charging station to replenish their battery. Lots of Volt owners drive their car like an electric, ie using it without running the ICE. It remains to be seen, but with a charging network in place more PHEV could increase their pure electric use.

In summary you 3rd point is not a reason against charging stations, but one for charging stations.

I am betting you are right on the battery technology. The battery technology is going to change and improve logarithmically. I enjoy following the battery technology almost as much as the introduction of new EVs. I think you have exactly the right attitude. It is important that BEV owners look at it like you do. There are absolutely lifestyles where the BEV is the superior choice. People simply must do their homework especially when it comes to the BEV.

Last response was to Indyflick. Also very well stated Jay. That needs to show up in a future article =)