How To: Give Your Renault Twizy Remote Monitoring
While the Open Vehicle Monitoring System (OVMS for short) was initially developed by a team of Tesla Roadster enthusiasts to give their cars the same remote monitoring and charging features as the Nissan Leaf electric car, the open-source project has grown to include many other models of electric car.
These include the Vauxhall Ampera and Renault Twizy, both of which have no remote monitoring offered as standard in the UK.
With under £80 of hardware and a low-cost data SIM card, I took the plunge earlier this year and ordered an OVMS system. Not only does it let me check on the state of charge of my Twizy remotely, but automatically records the energy use of each trip.
Better still, a version of the software soon to be released even lets you use your Twizy’s state of charge to direct you to charging stations within range.
The following guide shows you how to do the same in your Twizy.
Your first step in installing OVMS is to order the necessary hardware. Available from FastTech, you’ll need to order an OVMS Car Module, GSM Antenna, ODB-II to DB9 Data Cable, and a programming tool. While optional, the programming tool will help you ensure your equipment is running the latest firmware.
Note: in order to use the OVMS in any vehicle other than a Tesla Roadster, you’ll need firmware version 2.2.2 or later.
Finally, to enable GPS tracking, you’ll also need the optional GPS receiver.
In addition, you’ll also need to buy a SIM card suitable for data transfer. You can either opt for a pay-as-you go SIM card like the one recommended by OVMS and sold GEOSIM, or use a data-only monthly package. Vodafone and other providers offer a £6-a-month data SIM card deal that will be more than adequate for use in your car.
Once your hardware arrives, you’ll need to install the SIM card inside as detailed in the OVMS setup guide, and temporarily plug it into the ODBII port on your electric car. On the Twizy, this is located in the left-hand glove box.
Since these steps are already well documented by the OVMS setup guide, there’s no point reprinting its advice. Download and follow its instructions before reading the final part of this guide.
Once you’ve confirmed that your OVMS module is properly reporting the state of charge to your smartphone, you’re ready to permanently install it in your Twizy.
First of all, ensure your Twizy is unplugged and switched off. For added security, disconnect the 12V battery, which is located behind the front bumper.
Next, remove fusebox cover, located around the parking brake. This will give you access to the area behind the lower dash, and make it easier to remove the left-hand glovebox
Remove the two pins holding the lid of the lefthand glovebox by gently squeezing the end of each pin with a pair of pliers and pulling sideways. It’s easy to break the tabs on the end of each pin, so be careful.
After you’ve removed the lid, you can unbolt the glovebox using a T-30 socket.
With the bolts extracted, gently lift and twist the glovebox insert and remove the plug connecting power to the 12V accessory socket.
Here’s the tricky part. Gently squeeze the locking tab holding the ODBII socket in the bottom of the glovebox, and remove it.
Once removed, you should be left with a glovebox insert which is no-longer connected to the Twizy in any way. Once removed from the car, cut or file a small notch in the glovebox insert where the ODBII connector fits. This will let you pass the ODBII to DB9 cable from inside the glovebox to underneath it.
Then pass the ODBII to DB9-connector through the ODBII hole, and refit the socket. Once complete, refit the 12V accessory plug and refit the glovebox and lid.
Route the DB9 cable safely past the parking brake handle and fusebox so that it does not interfere with the operation of your Twizy.
Once you’ve got the data cable in place, you’ll need to find somewhere to stick the GSM and GPS anntennas. There’s plenty of space inside the front of the Twizy under the dash to do this, but try and find a piece of flat plastic rather than metal to stick them to.
For the GSM antenna, I placed mine just under the front of the Twizy near to the bulkhead, while I placed the (more sensitive) GPS receiver at the front of the Twizy behind the removable front panel.
With all the cables and antennas in place, reconnect your Twizy’s 12-volt battery and check to make sure the OVMS is operating as expected. Then, refit all the panels and covers you removed, and enjoy the wonder of a fully-connected, smarter Twizy!
For added functionality, those of you with an interest in coding may enjoy the funof combining the OVMS system with home automation, giving your Twizy the ability to charge on a timer or stop charging before it reaches 80 percent full.
Better still, as OVMS is open source, you can bet that the features and capabilities of it will grow with time, making it a smart choice for any discerning EV driver.
OVMS is a hobbyist project, not a commercial product. It was designed by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. Installation and use of this module requires some technical knowledge, and if you don't have that we recommend you contact other users in your area to ask for assistance. No support is implied or given by this how-to.