Over the course of a two and a half year EV trial, 349 drivers across the UK learned what we already know: unless you look under the hood, EVs are pretty similar to "regular" cars.
The Technology Strategy Board - the UK's innovation agency - launched the Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle (ULCV) Demonstrator program in 2008 in order to investigate how EVs perform in real-world conditions, as well as drivers' perceptions and attitudes towards them. 349 vehicles - almost all EVs, with a few plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles - were delivered to drivers in several cities across the UK for up to a year. Data related to driving patterns, charging, and drivers' attitudes toward their vehicle were collected.
A recent report authored by Oxford Brookes University and Cenex - a UK Centre of Excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies - reveals the results of the EV trial. Overall, the test drivers found the vehicles easy to use and not that different from a "normal" car.
One respondent noted:
“It has felt like just driving a normal car. If say I’d driven it and nobody had told me it was electric, you wouldn’t have thought any different, which is good. So it just felt like a normal automatic.”
By 3 months into the trial:
A Ford Focus from the trial
- 90% agreed that their EV was as easy to use as their normal car
- 37% indicated that their EV performed better than their regular car
- 72% said that the range was sufficient for their daily needs
- 68% said that they knew how much range they had left while driving
- 86% agreed that their EV would get them to their destination reliably
- 11% worried that adapting to charging would be difficult
- 89% thought that EVs are as safe as ICE cars
- 91% would recommend EVs to others
The report notes that only those drivers who challenged the range (about 30%) experienced what they call secondary adaptation: "being aware of the inter-connected nature of driving style, regenerative braking, route selection, state of charge, and the information fed back from the displays."
This Jedi-like state of awareness allows drivers to maximize the potential of their vehicle.
Perhaps one of the more interesting results of the trial was that 80% of the non-corporate users could imagine replacing one of their existing vehicles with an EV, and 50% intended to purchase one after the trial.
So maybe we're not crazy after all...