BMW Mini E

Road Trial of Electric Cars Shows 91% would Recommend Them

3 minutes read

View that they are only for “greenies” outdated by new research

A government report has just been released on the UK’s largest 1.5 million mile trial of electric vehicles (EVs), which has some very gratifying conclusions. Over 350 drivers put a variety of different EVs through their paces in all sorts of driving conditions.

The 12-month trial, commissioned by the Technology Strategy Board and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), provided a range of test electric vehicles to private and corporate fleet drivers to use every day. It utilised more than 300 cars, over 276,000 trips, clocked up over 1.5m miles and over 50,000 recharges. The average trip length achieved in the EVs was 5.1 miles and the average daily mileage was 21.4 miles.

Participants were often surprised how driver-friendly the EVs were and how convenient it was to charge them at home, rather than spend time in petrol stations as they used to with conventional transport. Little range anxiety – the worry of getting stranded as the battery runs out without a charging point near – was experienced during the trial because the vast majority of drivers kept comfortably within the capable range of the vehicles. Some 75% of daily use consumed less than 50% of the battery capacity. Trial participant and Oxfordshire businessman Dave Beesley said, “A lot of people worry about the range of the car, but how often are you driving 90 miles?”

A battery charge meter
A battery charge meter

At first drivers were concerned about noise and safety. In pre-trial interviews the key safety concern was the low noise of EVs. However, after 3 months EVs were compared positively to conventional cars, drivers stated they generally paid more attention to pedestrians when driving at low speeds than they would have normally in petrol or diesel vehicles and they preferred the more relaxing driving experience in an EV.

Mitsubishi's i-MIEV
Mitsubishi’s i-MIEV

The major issue the trial highlighted was the difficulty drivers had in estimating what range remained in the battery. The charge indicator was not particularly helpful as the range depends on so many other factors, including average speed, the hilliness of the journey and how heavily loaded the vehicle was.

Overall, EVs were seen as a viable mobility option. 80% of trial participants could imagine replacing their normal car with an EV and 50% intended to do so; 91% would recommend EVs to other drivers.

Summary Report

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