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Electric car trial results

First results from the electric car trials show driving habits remaining unchanged

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Electric cars can 'fit with current driving patterns'

Ecologist

18th June, 2010

First results of UK-wide trials dispel fears about the 'range anxiety' of electric cars running out of power: typical users' driving habits can remain unchanged

Replacing petrol or diesel cars with electric ones would not involve any changes to our typical driving patterns, according to the first results of a UK-wide trial.

Results showed the majority of journeys were less than five miles, average daily mileage was 23 miles and vehicles were parked for 97 per cent of the time, typically overnight, allowing plenty of time for battery charging.

The initial results from the West Midlands are part of a nationwide, eight-city trial launched last year and involving 340 cars. Individuals are being loaned the electric vehicles for 6-12 months, with each fitted with a GPS to track usage, location and charging habits.

As well as testing the potential of electric cars, data from the trials will also be used to help plan for the required number and location of charge points.

Electric car future

Electric cars currently produce about 50 per cent less carbon dioxide compared to petrol or diesel vehicles. However, a report this week from the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) says these emissions would be decreased to almost zero if the electricity network was switched from a reliance on coal, gas and nuclear and onto offshore wind and hydropower.

The report said running the entire UK car and taxi fleet on electricity would require the equivalent of 16 per cent of current electricity demand. Charging at night when electricity demands are low and the provision of charging garages where drivers can swap batteries during the day would also reduce the need for any additional electricity production.

Brian Price, from Aston University, which is collecting the data from the trials, said the journey data gathered so far showed the current generation of electric vehicles were 'cheap to run and comparable to petrol and diesel vehicles for speed, ease of use and daily journey distances; using less than 30 per cent of total charge in typical daily use'.

Campaigners say the UK could have between 1 and 5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020.

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