The coming decades will continue to witness a revolution in motor vehicles, with electric cars set to outnumber the traditional cars that use an internal combustion engine by the year 2040.
The popularity of electric vehicles is due to their distinct advantages over conventional gasoline and diesel-powered cars. These advantages include the economy and efficiency of electric vehicles, with car owners experiencing annual savings of up to 30% in fuel costs.
Electric cars are also ecologically friendly. They don’t emit harmful gases to the environment, making them attractive in a world that’s now more keenly aware of their carbon footprint.
Electric vehicles are also more efficient and give better engine performance with complete silence. Another contributing factor in the popularity of electric cars is that they’re becoming more affordable, given the vehicle’s prices. Electric car owners might even be eligible for tax credits in certain countries just for making the switch.
Mandatory Features in Electric Vehicles
While electric vehicles have and will continue to revolutionize a motorists’ driving experience, some essential components of the traditional cars should continue to be maintained. This is especially true where regulations require them to be available. Whether it’s practical to have them in electric cars will undoubtedly have a hand in rules changing to accommodate the emerging trends.
One such feature is the onboard diagnostic port that has been a mandatory feature of all vehicles produced and sold in most countries globally for many years now.
Onboard Diagnostics are required to enable the provision of engine data for emissions testing. Besides checking for emissions, onboard diagnostics are also useful for diagnosing vehicle faults, confirming the vehicle’s wellness and safety, and providing information on the vehicle’s service and maintenance schedules.
Regulations concerning onboard diagnostics were put in place to monitor vehicle emissions with scan tools plugged into the ports for reading data from the vehicle. Onboard diagnostic systems were developed in the late 1960s, originally to scan engine performance and diagnose vehicle faults.
They became more commonplace in the 1980s, with most vehicle models having ports for onboard diagnostics. The first regulations requiring vehicles to have these ports were developed in 1988 by the California Air Resource Board.
By the late 1990s and early 2000s, most countries had adopted regulations making it mandatory for all vehicles to have an onboard diagnostic system. These regulations and the specifications are commonly referred to as OBD-II or OBD2.
The OBD-II Diagnostic Ports in Electric Vehicles
Since electric vehicles don’t produce any emissions, the OBD-II regulations needed to change as well. With a shift in rules, electric cars are no longer required to have an onboard diagnostic. You’ll find that recent models of fully electric vehicles have no diagnostic port.
The Tesla Model 3, Model S, and Leaf, however, do have the diagnostic port, as these models were released before the change in regulations.
Other fully electric cars produced before the changes also have the OBD2 port, including Lucid, Ford Focus Electric, the Honda Clarity, and the Chevrolet Bolt EV. However, hybrid vehicles, whose engines can either use gasoline or electricity, are not exempted from the OBD-II requirements.
Initially, the OBD-II port was designed to be an access point for technicians to gauge a vehicle emission, diagnostic data, and the powertrain. With time, they’ve evolved and can support plug-in devices with telematics capabilities, allowing for remote diagnostic services in Electric Vehicles.
Telematics is valuable in electric vehicles because they enable monitoring energy generation and consumption, driving habits, vehicle battery, and state of charge. It also helps in the geo-location of the nearest charging stations.
The OBD-II diagnostics port is typically found below the dashboard compartment of the driver’s side. Regulations require that it shouldn’t be further than two feet from the steering wheel. The connector port has a 16-pin female connector that enables scan devices to be plugged in using adaptor cables or Bluetooth connectivity.
The On-Board- Diagnostic port or OBD port gives access to a wealth of information for Electric Vehicle maintenance and inspection. It’s a communication interface that’s not mandatory in electric vehicles, but most still use them.
A New Standard
Following the change in regulations, most electric cars now coming out of production have no OBD-II port. For a vehicle’s performance diagnosis and detection of faults, the standard onboard computer does just fine. It doesn’t need to be plugged into other scanning tools with a connector.
In the coming years, it’ll be interesting to see whether fully electric cars will develop a new standard for onboard diagnostics. But presently, each manufacturer has its own scanning tools and readers. Because of this, finding and fixing issues becomes pretty tricky for independent auto-shops.
Tesla vehicles, for instance, can only be serviced or repaired at Tesla Motors and have no licensed independent dealers to do the service and maintenance. In that case, onboard diagnostic ports become pretty much useless if it’s impossible to find and interpret the data.