Loughborough, UK – 1 October 2013

  • 80% of trial drivers see EVs as a viable mobility option
  • 72% of trial drivers say an EV is sufficient for their daily needs
  • 91% of trial drivers would recommend EVs
  • 50% of trial drivers intend to replace their ICE with an EV

Drivers taking part in the UK’s Ultra Low Carbon demonstration trial give EVs the thumbs up says a report pro-duced by Cenex and Oxford Brookes University. After 349 vehicles, covered over 1.5 million miles and 270,000 journeys, the analysis reveals that drivers were blown away by their performance and adapted almost immedi-ately to driving and charging the vehicles.

Cenex – the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for low carbon vehicle technologies – has announced the results of the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) and the Technology Strategy Boards (TSB) ultra-Low Carbon Ve-hicle (ULCV) demonstrator programme. The report, entitled ‘Assessing the viability of EVs in daily life,’ analyses the experiences of 349 drivers who took part in the study that aimed to give a robust account of the usage pat-terns and perceptions towards EVs. The vehicle and driver information were collected and analysed by Cenex and Oxford Brookes University.

Launched in 2008, the ULCV demonstrator programme was the first UK-wide major trial that aimed to expose EVs to multiple drivers and drive cycles, monitor the performance of the vehicles in real-world scenarios, and understand customer perception and concern around EVs and its charging infrastructure. Over the duration of the study, more than 1.5 million miles were driven and over 51,000 charging events were recorded from the 349 vehicles. Information from the vehicles and the drivers were brought together to give a robust and thorough ac-count of the usage patterns and perceptions towards EVs during the first 12 months of vehicle deployment.

At the outset, Drivers did not want to compromise their daily routine and commonly stated that the car needed to fit their lives rather than vice versa. However, drivers showed immediate Primary Adaption as the EV was seen as simple to drive; and unfamiliar components such as regenerative breaking were adapted to within the first trip. Old performance stereotypes associated with previous generation EVs were successfully countered and the current EVs were seen as fun to drive, smooth and rated very highly on acceleration. Over a third of drivers stated that their EV had superior performance to their normal car.

Before the trial, drivers did not anticipate any significant problems with charging their EV, or any safety issues. Driver’s actual experiences showed that charging was even more straightforward than they had initially imag-ined. Drivers had a preference for charging vehicles as opposed to going to petrol stations to refuel. This is likely to be due to drivers valuing the freedom of not being tied to expensive fuel prices and the convenience of charg-ing at home. However, a very high proportion of drivers remained convinced that public charging sites were es-sential.

The average trip length achieved in the EVs was 5.1 miles and the average daily mileage was 21.4 miles. Little range anxiety was experienced during the trial because the vast majority of drivers kept comfortably within the capable range of EVs. 75% of daily use consumed less than 50% of the battery capacity. Finally, EVs were seen as a viable mobility option and 80% of trial participants could imagine replacing their ICE with an EV and 50% intended to do so.

Phil Smith, Chairman of the Technology Strategy Board commented, “The UK is committed to a low carbon economy and transport is a key area where change will be needed. This study shows how people will welcome and readily adapt to well-thought-out and effective innovation in this area.”

Robert Evans, CEO of Cenex said, “Uptake of Electric Vehicles has been slower than some expected with real and perceived barriers including consumer concern over range anxiety and limited public infrastructure. However this report proves that EVs are extremely viable in daily life. Government and industry players are committed to sustained effort to support what is expected to be a gradual uptake of plug-in vehicles in the market, running in parallel with the increased use of plug-in capability, as a means of offering consumers fuel cost savings and im-proved environmental performance.

“Likewise, vehicle recharging infrastructure is continually growing. The UK national Plugged-in Places Scheme has already helped install over 5,000 public charge points in key areas including business parks, tourist attrac-tions and leisure centres with the scheme being extended as well as being complemented by new national measures.”