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Trial shows electric vehicles already satisfy our daily needs



An electric vehicle trial has shown that 83 per cent of private drivers said the vehicles met their daily needs , and that f ears of using electric vehicles are unfounded .

The Technology Strategy Board (
) has released analysis of data collected from a UK-wide demonstrator programme involving 340 ultra-low carbon vehicles. A range of vehicle types, including high performance cars and small city runabouts, were driven by real users making everyday journeys.

The findings collected from on-board computers and face-to-face surveys reveal that participants in the trial met the challenges of switching to an ultra low carbon vehicle with ease, often getting completely used to the change after just one week. Participants were also impressed with the performance of their ultra low carbon vehicles, and 83 per cent of private drivers said the vehicles met their daily needs.

A driver interviewed by Oxford Brookes University as part of the trial said:

“It’s been really surprising actually. 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, it’s been quite an easy sort of relaxed transition actually.”

Business Minister Mark Prisk commented: “These preliminary findings send a clear signal to the low carbon vehicle sector that we are moving in the right direction. It is clear from these results that the initial fears of using electric vehicles are unfounded with private drivers in particular rapidly adapting to – and enjoying – their use as part of everyday life. The intelligence that the report provides will be invaluable to promote collaboration and inform future R&D, leading to growth in this globally competitive market.”

The usage and perception data covers just under 20,000 charging events and over 110,000 individual journeys covering just under 680,000 miles. The data collected from the cars is also underpinned by the findings from perception surveys conducted before the trials and during three months in which personal drivers (PDs) and fleet drivers (FDs) were interviewed.

The full analysis findings were being presented at the automotive industry’s annual low carbon vehicle event LCV 2011, at Rockingham on September 7 th and 8 th .

Key Findings:

  • The actual experience of learning how to use the vehicle was even more straightforward than the drivers had anticipated prior to the trial. 95 per cent of private drivers (PDs) found that EVs were no more difficult to use than the car the participants usually drove.
  • This ease of adaptation is backed up by usage data showing that there was no significant individual journey length or daily mileage per vehicle change over the first three months of usage, showing users made little or no change to their daily driving habits after switching from conventional to low carbon vehicles.
  • Performance: Prior to the trial, only 16 per cent of PDs and 14 per cent of Fleet Drivers (FDs) expected their EV to perform better than their normal car. However, these scores improved by 24 per cent and 26 per cent respectively after three months.
  • Range anxiety: Prior to the trial 100 per cent of PDs said they would be more concerned about reaching their destination with an EV than they would with their normal car. After three months this dropped significantly, by 35 per cent.
  • The drop in range anxiety is in part due to the increased understanding of vehicle capabilities, driving techniques and journey planning. Charging data also shows users gained more confidence in their journey distance over the three months, with an eight per cent increase in users allowing their batteries to drop below 50 per cent before plugging in.
  • However, after three months of vehicle use, both PDs and FDs still cite the adequate range they require for daily trips at 92.12 miles and 120.64 miles respectively, showing that despite confidence in the vehicles’ ability an increased range is still a key desire.

Iain Gray Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board commented on the results: “This data from the real world use of low carbon vehicles is extremely useful to the sector and forms a key pillar in our Low Carbon Vehicle Innovation Platform. The fact that users did not have to alter their daily routine to integrate the vehicles into their lives shows that, where appropriate, they are already a viable form of low carbon transport. As such we will continue to invest in and push forward the low carbon vehicle innovation landscape.”

This early stage data detailing the first three months’ findings was gathered through in-vehicle data logging and perception surveys. The report is available online at:
. It provides information that allows business to identify challenges and opportunities within the low carbon vehicle sector and inform their future R&D and innovation. The full year cross-trial data analysis will be published in the same location in the summer of 2012.

The £25m Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles Demonstrator programme, launched in 2009 by the Technology Strategy Board, includes 19 vehicle manufacturers, with 340 vehicles being trialled in seven different demonstrator hubs across the UK.  The programme is supported by the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

Read our experience of living with a Nissan LEAF .


Case studies:

Graham Standring (CABLED – West Midlands)

Graham has been driving a Mitsubishi i-MiEV in the Birmingham area as part of the CABLED trial. He has predominately been utilising home charging, although there are some public charge points near his work place. Overall he is impressed with the vehicle in the urban environment, although he did find some issues with charge loss in cold weather, especially when defrosting the vehicle.

Graham commented, “I have found my i-MiEV very convenient to use with no need to stand around at the petrol-station; just plug-in when you get to your home or work-place and the car takes-care of itself.  Realistically the i-MiEV is the only car you need to get around Birmingham; quick off-the-mark with four doors plus storage and yet still easy to park.

I would definitely like to keep it longer after the CABLED trials end. With the bonus of lower running costs, no expensive petrol, servicing or road taxes, ownership is a very tempting proposition.

However, more on–street charging would make life easier and a fast-charge facility on major highways would help extend the operating range beyond current urban limits.”

Mick English ( E
Newcastle and Gateshead)

When Mick received his Nissan LEAF as part of the trial the EV quickly replaced the use of his conventional diesel vehicle for a 75 mile round commute in Northumberland. During the programme he has become an outspoken advocate for electric vehicles and blogs regularly on the subject. He now faces the hard decision on whether to sell his diesel vehicle for an EV at the end of the trial.

Mick commented: “I drive 75 plus miles to work and home every day without any issues whatsoever. If I get into a traffic jam as I sometimes do at the Tyne Tunnel Crossing, it costs me almost no fuel to move slowly through the queue, the exact opposite to driving a carbon fuel based vehicle. I use the vehicle as a general run-around at weekends and during days off and I have never had a problem with the worry of lack of fuel.

The Leaf is a great vehicle which achieves all that it claims to be. It has served me well and impresses everyone that can get up close and intimate with her. Decisions, decisions in September when it finally goes back to Nissan, it will be finances that are the deciding factor and not in any way the limitations of the vehicle.”

Rokneddin Shariat (CABLED – West Midlands)

As Operations Manager at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, Rokneddin was one of the first drivers to receive a Smart fortwo electric drive in July last year (2010). He uses it for all commuting and day-to-day travel predominately using home charging. Rokneddin found the vehicle extremely user-friendly and has travelled in excess of 7,000 miles to date.

Rokneddin commented: “Driving the Smart fortwo has been fantastic; I don’t have to worry about stopping off at petrol stations as I charge up at work and at home.  It has proved more than capable of replacing my current car for the vast majority of my day to day journeys.”

Asa Barber (Mini E – South East England)

Asa is an electronics lecturer at a London university. He lives in West London and wanted to swap public transport for an electric vehicle for his commute to work. He heard about the ULCVD trial launch and went in search for one relevant to him with the aim of finding out if the electric commute really can work compared to public transport. He therefore joined the MINI E trial. He has been very impressed with the vehicle and the need for only one charge (at home) to satisfy his daily driving needs.

Business case study – BMW Group

The BMW Group had 40 Mini Es in the trial. The company has utilised the data and insight to inform their road to commercialisation, specifically they gathered valuable market data, market insight, optimised market collaborations and valuable technical knowledge. This has informed their road to commercialisation and formed a fundamental building block in BMW Group’s Electromobility roadmap.

The Ultra-Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator Programme:


The Technology Strategy Board’s Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles Demonstrator programme, launched in 2009, is the largest demonstrator trial of its kind in Europe. In all, 340 vehicles ranging from high performance vehicles to small city cars and vans have been driven by private and fleet drivers in seven different demonstrator hubs across the UK. The £25m programme is supported by the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

The aim of the trial is to show that ultra low carbon vehicle technology in the UK is at a promising stage of development and that the vehicles are suitable for everyday use so we are well placed to play a competitive role in an emerging global low carbon vehicles market.


The trial set out to:

  • Conduct real world testing through in-vehicle logging and analysis (supported by Cenex)
  • Understand customer perceptions and concerns ( supported by Oxford Brookes University)
  • Examine interface challenges with infrastructure

The full set of perception and usage data from the trials will be published by the Technology Strategy Board in 2012 and business is encouraged to use the findings to accelerate low carbon vehicles innovation.


Some key facts about the programme to date:


8 consortia

19 vehicle manufacturers

340 vehicles (EVs, PHEV, Fuel Cell)

110,389 individual journeys (2009 12 to circa June 2011 06)

677,209 miles travelled (1,089,862 km)

19,782 charging events

143.2 MWh electricity consumed


Consortia involved in the programme:


Peugeot Electric Cars – (Glasgow)

Allied Electric vehicles, Scottish Power, Axeon Batteries, Strathclyde University

Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Demonstrators (
– (Coventry and Birmingham)

Jaguar Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Smart, Tata Motors, University of Birmingham, EoN Energy, Arup, Coventry City Council, Birmingham City Council, Aston University, Coventry University

Electric Vehicle Accelerated Development in the North East (E
– (Newcastle and Gateshead)

Nissan, Smith Electric Vehicles, Liberty Electric Cars, Peugeot, Gateshead Council,Future Transport Systems, Newcastle university

MINI E Research Project United Kingdom – (Oxford)

BMW, SSE, Oxford Brookes University

EEMS Accelerate (National)

Delta Motorsport, WestfieldSports Cars, Ecotricity Cars, Lightning, AEA Technology, Green Motion Eco Car Hire

Ford Battery Electric Vehicle – (North West London)

Ford, SSE, Strathclyde University

Mercedes Benz London and South East – (London)

Smart, Nudge Advisory

PHV: Paving the way forfull commercialisation – (London)

Toyota, EDF Energy, MET Police, Transport for London, GCDA


The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led government body which works to create economic growth by ensuring that the UK is a global leader in innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit: