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Initial Results of UK EV Driver Study Show Increased Confidence and Low Cost Recharging

Six months into the CABLED trial (Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Demonstrators) (earlier post), Aston University’s research reveals that drivers are travelling more miles more frequently and are undertaking longer journeys, indicating increased confidence and notably reduced ‘range anxiety’.

The percentage of journeys exceeding 45 miles grew from 3% to 5% between quarter 1 and 2 of 2010. Over the same period the average daily miles recorded increased by more than 2 miles and the maximum daily mileage recorded increased from 100.53 to 124.42 miles. The average cost to trial participants for recharging at home is between 25p and £1 (US$0.40 and $1.60) per day.

The data analyzed by Aston University combines and compares the behavior patterns of 25 Mitsubishi i-MiEV drivers over two consecutive quarters. The results form part of the CABLED project, which will see an overall total of 110 ultra low carbon vehicles from different manufacturers, tested on the roads of Birmingham and Coventry as part of a £7.5-million (US$11.9-million) year-long Government scheme.

Each vehicle in the CABLED trial is fitted with GPS and data logger, designed and installed by Coventry based RDM Automotive. These record the usage, location and charging habits of each vehicle. From this data the following information can be analysed:

  • Frequency of individual journeys
  • Length and duration of journeys
  • Date and time of journeys
  • Energy used per journey
  • Duration and amount of energy transferred during charge
  • External temperature
  • Location of charging/parking, i.e. home, work, public etc.
  • Average speed

This data will also be used to map out a future network of electric charging points, to further extend range and improve the convenience of electric vehicles.

The CABLED results at this stage show that:

  • A Mitsubishi i-MiEV can travel around 80 miles when fully charged and on average, drivers are using less than 30% of their total vehicle charge in a typical daily use.
  • The average charge time per i-MiEV vehicle is two hours. This provides sufficient charge for between 20-40 miles of travel at a cost of between 40p to £1, depending on the tariff.
  • Drivers habitually charge their vehicles, whether the battery is half full or nearly empty, in much the same way as a laptop or mobile phone, which will influence the next generation of battery technology that is incorporated into these vehicles.
  • The most popular time to charge vehicles is overnight but as around eight in 10 journeys use less than 18% of the battery and five average length journeys could be completed on one charge, there is now evidence to support the need for intelligent technology that will allow electric vehicles to interact with the national grid.

Collecting real-world analysis of electric vehicles is essential in understanding actual demands and requirements of low carbon vehicles for consumers. The journey data gathered is already showing that the current generation of vehicles are cheap to run as well as being comparable to petrol and diesel vehicles for speed, ease of use and daily journey distance.

—Brian Price, lecturer in Engineering Systems and Management at Aston

Project Leader from CABLED co-ordinating partner Arup believes the data presents a positive outlook for the mass take-up of electric vehicles.

The phenomenon known as ‘range anxiety’—concern about battery life when undertaking long journeys—is falling as drivers become more familiar with their vehicles. The low cost of ‘refuelling’ in relatively short periods of time reinforce this. While there are technical challenges ahead—such as extending vehicle range and making provision for an increased demand on the national grid—our results show that even current EVs are more than capable of meeting users’ day-to-day needs.

—Neil Butcher

The West Midlands CABLED consortium comprises 13 organizations, led by Arup. Part funding for the project came from the regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands.

Each of the six vehicle manufacturers—Jaguar/Land Rover, Mitsubishi/Colt, Mercedes Benz/smart, Tata Motors, LTI and Microcab Industries—are contributing their own vehicles towards the low carbon scheme, which includes a mix of fully electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell cars.

Electricity providers E.ON are delivering charging points for the trial with assistance from the city councils of Birmingham and Coventry. In total, over 340 cars being trialed in several regions across the UK.



"A Mitsubishi i-MiEV can travel around 80 miles when fully charged and on average, drivers are using less than 30% of their total vehicle charge in a typical daily use."

Indicating that people do not drive as much as they might think they do. Which is great for the early EVs with limited AER. If driving an extended range vehicle like Volt - there will never be an issue.


Marketing may have not done their job with EVs. One of marketing's jobs is to see what customers want. This is a potential solution in search of a probable market. The build it and they will come mentality just does not make it.


Not exactly. The problem is the average ev user right now is NOT the average car user. Its a subset and we need to keep that in mind. We realy dont know how evs will fair if we try and get them even to 1% market share as that is a very different group of people from what we have testing them now.


That is why this data is interesting but a bit skewed. These are a few people that drive EVs now, not people considering it. If you can expand the findings, then new EV owners will drive more and farther over time. This sounds a bit tentative for the buying public looking to replace gasoline cars with an EVs by the millions of units.

If you could data log everyone's EV for years you could see a pattern where charging stations would be required and used, this could help reduce the range anxiety even more. My question is who pays for the charging stations, are they privately owned for profit, are they a public service where the user just pays for electricity?


This is good news for limited range EVs. They can only get better with time, i.e. better batteries.


There is plenty of data from EV1 and RAV4EV users in the 1990s. They numbered in the hundreds and kept the cars in service for many years.


That data is useless now as people have cvhanged since then and driving habits have changed.


I would not say useless, driving patterns may not be all that different. Certainly patterns developed over years illustrate trends in behavior for EV users.

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