Survey shows promise for electric vehicles

Posted on 13 Jul 2011 by The Manufacturer

A study - Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Demonstrators - has provided data showing that electric vehicles are capable of meeting transportation demands in urban centres.

The study is the largest part of the Technology Strategy Board’s £25m Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator programme. It was designed to show why electric vehicles (EVs) are able to meet future transportation demands in the UK’s urban centres, the potential impact of habit changing behaviour and patterns of energy use.

The data was collected from the owners of 25 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs and 20 Smart Fortwos in Birmingham and Coventry. It showed that 77% of journeys undertaken lasted less than 20 minutes, and only 2% used more than 50% of the battery. This means that in the vast majority of cases, an EV can make a return trip without having to recharge its battery.

Project leader Neil Butcher from co-ordinating CABLED partner Arup said of the findings: “These findings form part of the largest study of low carbon vehicle use ever compiled and, whilst our study is on-going, it’s already clear that EVs offer a viable, practical urban transport solution.”

The data collected showed that EV users are more motivated by convenience rather than the need to recharge their battery. Given that the cars spend over 97% of the time parked, there is more than enough recharging time for the owner.

Charles Bradshaw-Smith, head of E-Mobility R&D at E.ON explained that the data gathered by CABLED is essential to proving that there is a real need for companies to invest in Smart-grid technology: “As most journeys are relatively short, this allows scope for exactly when the car is charged each night to minimise cost and maximise carbon savings. Such evidence supports the need for automated intelligent charging technology that will allow EVs to interact with the distribution grid.”

An increasing number of businesses are looking at the benefits of electric cars, including logistics giant DHL, which has conducted large-scale tests of its own EVs in New York and Berlin.

George Archer