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by Tim Beissmann

The first results of a UK-wide electric vehicle trial project have been published today based on three months of activity by 25 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs.

The CABLED (Coventry and Birmingham Low Emissions Vehicle Demonstrators) consortium is responsible for the 25 test vehicles and found that EV drivers used their cars very much like the typical UK driver.

The average daily mileage was 37 kilometres, well within the i-MiEV’s 128km range, while most journeys were less than eight kilometres. The report noted that conventional petrol and diesel engines are at their most polluting, and catalytic converters are least effective, when warming up over short distances like those recorded.

The vehicles were parked for 97 percent of the time, and were left plugged in to a power source 20 percent of the time.

The batteries were generally charged overnight and during school hours, allowing for substantial charging sessions both at work and at home.

The EV drivers were also happy to use the cars’ entire speed range, and did not avoid motorways or high-speed areas.

Project leader of the CABLED consortium, Neil Butcher, said the drivers made an easy transition to electric vehicles.

“Vehicles are quick and easy to plug in and this becomes a habit – even if the battery is still mostly full – so vehicles are usually fully charged at the start of the day.

“With the mass usage of vehicles, we will need to carefully consider how energy tariffs can be used to promote overnight charging and smooth demands on the grid,” Mr Butcher said.

Aston University’s Brian Price, who helped compile the results, said collecting real-world usage data of EVs through satellite mapping and analysis was essential to understanding the actual demands and requirements of EVs for consumers.

“The journey data gathered is already showing that the current generation of ultra low carbon vehicles are cheap to run as well as being comparable to petrol and diesel vehicles for speed, ease of use and daily journey distance, using less than 30 percent of total charge in typical daily use.

“The next phase of the study will allow us to map out an optimal charging point network to further extend range and improve the convenience of electric cars,” Mr Price said.

Lead technologist in low carbon vehicles for the Technology Strategy Board’s Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator program, Andrew Everett, said it was encouraging to see positive data coming from the early stages of the trials.

“Seven other consortia will be collecting the same sort of data from onboard computers in around 340 test vehicles. The information will be available to all and the aim is that the findings help drive innovation and development in low carbon vehicles technology as well as to inform future UK activities related to ultra low carbon vehicles,” Mr Everett said.

CABLED will roll out up to 85 additional electric and low emissions test vehicles throughout 2010, with Mercedes-Benz/smart, Tata, Jaguar/Land Rover, LTI and Microcab industries all set to add to the fleet.




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