Europe’s largest electric vehicle test silences critics

Posted on 12 Sep 2011 by The Manufacturer

A UK wide trial of ultra low carbon vehicles, including high performance and small city cars, has shown that the environmentally friendly alternatives are ready to take on the gas guzzlers.

The £25m Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles Demonstrator programme has involved 19 vehicle manufacturers and 340 vehicles with tailpipe emissions of less than 50g CO2/km or zero tailpipe emissions. The trial involves a full 12 month test for each car by real users making everyday journeys.

Having being launched in 2009 by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), all cars in the trial have now undergone at least three months of driving. Last week the TSB released analysis data collected during three month period for each vehicle with the findings collected from on-board computers and face-to-face surveys.

The results showed participants in the trial met the challenges of switching to an ultra low carbon vehicle with ease. According to the findings, 83% of private drivers said the vehicles met their daily needs and many participants were also impressed with the performance of their test vehicle. A driver interviewed by Oxford Brookes University as part of the trial said: “I’d thought it would take a bit more getting used to but apart from little quirks of the car that you know about, it wouldn’t be any different if you were in a different model to your normal car.”

Prior to the trial, 100% of participants said they would be more concerned about reaching their destination with an EV than they would with their normal car. After three months that dropped by 35%. Data collected about the users charging habits showed confidence in the vehicles improved over the three month trial with an eight per cent increase in users allowing their batteries to drop below 50% before plugging in.

Graham Standring drove the Mitsubishi i-MiEV in the Birmingham area and said he was impressed with the vehicle in the urban environment but said he did find some issues with charge loss in cold weather. “I have found my i-MiEV every convenient to use with no need to stand around at the petrol station; just plug-in when you get to your home or workplace and the car takes care of itself…I would definitely like to keep it longer after the [trial ends].

Mick English of Northumberland drove a Nissan LEAF as part of the trial. “I drive 75 plus miles to work and home every day without any issues whatsoever…The LEAF is a great vehicle which achieves all it claims to be.”