We engineers are already working on the next generation of the Ampera. In order to fine tune the car even better to customers’ needs and utility profiles, we’d like to know what the Ampera driver’s behavior looks like on a day-to-day basis. We get help with this from so-called data loggers in the test cars. Over 40 electric cars equipped with this little box have been in operation in Germany, Dubai, Arizona and Michigan for around two years. Mostly colleagues from the areas of battery development, energy management, powertrain control, endurance testing and quality control gather this valuable field data. I also have one of these small boxes in my company car. I regularly drive to our research center in Mainz-Kastel to “unload” the data, easily and comfortably over W-LAN.
What data are we talking about here? Well, for each car and per week parameters like fuel and electric consumption, air conditioning use, average speed and accelerator pedal position as well as ambient temperature are displayed. Of course the number of drives and loads are also recorded. Altogether, the flight recorder that was developed in Mainz-Kastel can capture 7,500 influencing variables. Around 600 of these are relevant for our purposes. We take a particularly careful look at the battery performance and driving speed histograms as we think about the design of future powertrain systems.
One data logger insight that is a good tip for the efficiency fans among Ampera drivers: more energy can be saved with the air conditioning regulator than with the way the gas pedal is used.