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Public Electric Car Trials in UK West Midlands Begins with 25 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs

i-MiEVs for the CABLED trials. Click to enlarge.

The first stage of a Government-supported UK-wide project to trial electric and ultra low emission vehicles began Saturday in the West Midlands with the keys to 25 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) (earlier post) being handed over to independent drivers. The project, managed by the CABLED (Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Vehicle Demonstrators) consortium, is worth £15 million (US$24 million) and will trial 110 vehicles on the roads of Birmingham and Coventry.

UK-wide, 340 vehicles are being tested using funding from the Technology Strategy Board. (Earlier post.) As well as being the largest, CABLED is the first consortium to begin vehicle trials and has recently gained further public backing thanks to £2.5 million (US$4 million) funding awarded by Advantage West Midlands (one of nine Regional Development Agencies in the UK).

i-MiEV Quick Specs
  • 300V, 16 kWh Li-ion pack
  • 47 kW/180N·m max motor
  • Single-speed reduction gear transmission
  • Power consumption (10-15 cycle) = 125 Wh/km
  • Range (10-15 cycle) = 160 km (99 mi)
  • 200V, 15A charge = 7 hours
  • 200V, 3-phase (50 kW) charge = 30 min. for 80%
  • The CABLED consortium was confirmed in June as one of eight successful teams in the £25 million Technology Strategy Board Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Demonstrator Competition. The consortium brings together the expertise of 13 West Midlands-based organizations within the engineering, automotive manufacturing, academic, public and infrastructure sectors, and is led by global engineering consultancy Arup.

    Less than 1% of the vehicles registered every year in the UK are electric and most of these are currently used in London. We think that by 2020, low carbon cars will be commercially viable, and it’s important that we start to understand the public’s reaction and provide the necessary infrastructure to prepare for this.

    Today’s launch is a landmark occasion for the UK automotive industry, and this project will begin to examine the points where the vehicles meet the built environment—energy generation, battery charging and driver behavior. This is an important first step on our roads to a low-carbon future.

    —Neil Butcher, Arup’s project leader of the CABLED consortium

    Drivers selected for the trials of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and 85 other vehicles in the Midlands trials were chosen through an application process led by Coventry University. The other five manufacturers that will roll out vehicles in 2010, include:

    • smart ed (40 battery electric cars)
    • Tata Indica (25 electric cars)
    • Microcab (10 hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles)
    • Land Rover Range_e (5 plug in hybrid vehicles)
    • LTI (5 electric taxis)

    All six automakers contributing vehicles are members of the CABLED consortium. Electricity providers E.ON are delivering charging points for the trial with assistance from the city councils of Birmingham and Coventry.

    Three of the Midland’s leading universities play a major role in the scheme with Coventry University undertaking the selection process of drivers, Aston University analysing vehicle usage data and the University of Birmingham contributing access and expertise gained from its hydrogen fuelling station, which is currently one of the very few of its kind in UK. A new hydrogen station is planned for Coventry University.

    The West Midlands has the largest of the UK’s regional automotive clusters, delivering 28% of output in the UK. It represents just more than 1,500 companies, employs around 115,000 people and generates an annual turnover of £13 billion (US$21 billion).



    What's to learn?

    Is this US$24 million for 110 vehicles?
    I think the US$24 million covers more cars and infrastructure. ?

    This will maybe "create" some private charging stations.

    My main objection is; until EVs themselves become affordable this will just show EV owners will want more charging stations.

    EVs are not yet practical, but NOT because there is inadequate infrastructure.

    Installing infrastructure today is like building airports in 1904 because of Kitty Hawk.

    Putting a bunch of citizens in EVs is still not a bad thing, just an inefficient way.

    It's too much playing SimCity with other peoples money.


    TT - Historically, new technologies cost more than the ones they replace. However, within a few years, mass production and competition reduce the cost of the new technologies significantly below the cost of the old ones.

    That should also happen with BEVs vs ICEs by 2020 or so.

    Simple, basic mid-size BEVs will have no reasons to cost $50K by 2020. By that time, batteries performance will have trippled and cost could be much below $200/Kwh. Decent BEVs will probably cost less than $20K (in 2009 $$).

    Considering that operation cost will be much lower for BEVs, the initial purchase price may be marginally higher while the total (xx years) operational cost will be lower than equivalent ICE units.

    Poeple who need longer range vehicles may have to settle with PHEVs for a decade or two or until such times as batteries performance reach 1000 Wh/Kg and cost is reduced to $100/Kwh. Very quick charge battery packs would help but who wants to stop every 100 miles for a 15 minutes recharge? Once every 300+ miles may be acceptable but not every 100 miles.


    A reasonable test. But it's fascinating how people think we need infrastructure to grow acceptance. If you've got a 100 mile EV and a charger in the garage - why stop anywhere else?? This is a hangover from petrol days. People see a need to buy energy from a source outside the home.

    Bollocks. One goal going forward is to empower the home. With PV in sunbelts and CHP in colder regions - we remove a huge block of energy consumers from the grid. Lower grid expansion cost, maintenance cost, higher security, efficiency etc.

    These iMiEVs may cause arachnophobia - but hey...


    15 minute recharge time for 100 miles driving sounds OK to me. I have to stop every 100 miles because my kids need to pee, anyway.
    Bring out an EV that gets 100 miles per charge, can recharge in 15 minutes and costs under 20K and I'm there!
    It's the under 20K that's holding things up.
    Where's china and india when we need them?


    I think the Zip car idea is a good place to try out EVs. If you get off the train, subway or light rail and a taxi just won't do it, swipe your card through the reader on the door rail and go where you want. You may like an EV so much, you might even become a future customer.


    TT there's all sorts of questions about how well EVs will fit "normal" peoples' lives. These questions need to be answered and field testing is a useful step.


    I think as more people try the EVs, more will figure that it could be a good second car for around town. The price will be the limiting factor, but that may start to get better over time.

    Even if we could convert cars to range extender, they would be good around town cars AND be able to go longer distances. I would convert mine to a range extended car, if the price was right.


    Historically, new technologies that cost more than the ones they replace (are less cost effective) first sell as novelties, like the Prius or Smart.

    If and when they prove more cost effective than the old ones, they take a big share (or all) of the market. Like ICE autos did over horses (and steam and electric did not).

    Simple, basic mid-size BEVs will sell like hot cakes if they cost $20K by 2020 (in 2009 $$).

    We ALREADY know that operation cost will be much lower for BEVs. What's to learn ?

    Some will not accept the limited range - longer re-"fuel" time.
    But so what - BEVs don't need anywhere near 100% of the market. They just need lots more than 3%.

    Yes, there's all sorts of questions about how well EVs will fit "normal" peoples' lives.

    Of course.
    BUT, these questions absolutely do NOT need to be answered now.

    The market will work it out gradually as BEVs become progressively more cost effective

    Henry Gibson

    It is very bad engineering to have a battery electric vehicle without a liquid fuel powered range extender. Such a system automatically doubles the fuel efficiency compared to almost all engine powered cars. There is no need to even think about the range on the battery alone. Smaller batteries means cheaper price, and good engineering means that the battery alone only needs to handle to average trip at most.

    There are ways to make the smallest Capstone turbine generator much smaller for the same 30 kw of output. Ac propulsion proved that 30kw was enough for full speed on all roads with lead batteries even. One moving part, and the air comming out on California motorways has lower particulates, CO, HC and NOX than the air going in. On a really cold day the exhaust could be diverted through the cab without damaging anyone or anything. ..HG..

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