The largest real-world trial of electric car use in the UK has shown that drivers are impressed by the scale of the financial savings that are possible and are not concerned about ‘range-anxiety,’ with 80 per cent saying that they could use electric vehicles for most of their journeys.
The findings come from two 6-month trials involving the use of electrically-powered MINI Es in which 62 members of the public and 76 pool users covered a total distance of over 250,000 miles.
The average cost to charge the cars was less than 2 pence a mile with most being driven for fewer than 30 miles a day. A lack of charging points wasn’t seen as a factor by the drivers with the majority choosing to charge their cars at home as the 149 mile range was well within their normal daily journey length. Due to the low mileage covered, users only charged their cars 2.9 times per week on average.
The survey also found that people used the electric cars in a similar way to conventionally-powered vehicles, covering an average of 29.7 miles (47.8 kms) a day in the electric cars against 26.5 (42.6 kms) in the control group, which used MINI Coopers and BMW 116i models.
The drivers commented on the driving experience with most appreciating the speed and silence of the 204hp MINI E. Driving efficiently to maximise the range was seen as part of the fun of driving an electric car rather than a disadvantage and the overwhelming majority – 96 per cent – said that they would consider buying one after their experience, with half saying that they would pay one-third more to do so.
The cars were fitted with data-logging equipment that collected an enormous amount of information, which was collated and analysed by Oxford Brookes University.
The findings have helped with the development of the 2011 BMW ActiveE car, a four-seat car based on the BMW 1 Series Coupé. The most far-ranging use of the data though, will be the future development of BMW two new i-models, the i3 and i8, set for launch in 2013.
Suzanne Gray, General Manager of BMW i said:
“The feedback from the trial has been invaluable in helping our understanding of how people really respond to electric cars and other factors necessary to support electric car drivers. With this information we will be in a strong position to provide a well-rounded product and service proposition to customers of the BMW i3 and to work with other players in the electric vehicle market to make it a successful experience for a new generation of users.”
Some concerns do remain, with 82 per cent saying that it was “essential” that a network of charging points are established and most agreeing that they would not be able to use their MINI E as their only car due to a combination of lack of charging points and the relatively low range.