Shorter range with harder winds 

One key obstacle for electromobility to overcome is the range of the vehicle. In this SEC project Volvo Truck’s industrial PhD student Mikael Askerdal brings knowledge to how to add weather information to the range estimation.  

Weather is an important factor when estimating how far an electric vehicle can get before it needs to recharge. Parameters such as wind resistance, the state of the road, and the temperatures of the tires have a significant influence on how well the vehicle perform range-wise.  

“The core issue is to be able to predict the weather’s impact on the vehicle. The wind is one of the most important parameters, and what we have focused on in this project. One remarkable thing is that the side wind is about as largely an energy thief as head-wind, on heavy vehicles”, says Mikael Askerdal. 

Since range hasn’t really been a barrier for combustion engines, the weather-aspect hasn’t been an issue large enough to investigate much. Now when range and charging infrastructure are limitations within electromobility, there is a clearer need for optimizing the range estimation. The results aren’t necessarily focused on energy efficiency, but rather to get to where you want to go.  

“The energy consumption may also be movable. Trucks have other energy consuming parts than propulsion. These activities are are sometimes possible to wait with until the vehicle is connected to a charger, and knowing how weather impact the range support this planning,” says Mikael Askerdal. 

What comes out of the project is that when you know your route and the wind conditions on that road, you can do an assessment of how much energy that will be used. With the weather parameter you will get a much more exact calculation.  

“The knowledge that we have developed will hopefully contribute to optimizing algorithms in Volvo’s range estimation tools in one way or another,” says Mikael Askerdal. 

The project ended in May 2022 but the plan is to continue the research in a project where the state of the road, related to weather, will be the focus.