Electric vehicle (EV) drivers quickly overcome fears about running out of power but most still believe petrol cars perform better, new research suggests.
Only 35 per cent of private drivers in a study by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) were more worried about reaching their destination in an EV than in a petrol car after three months of driving one — down from 100 per cent before the trial began.
The UK-wide project is the largest EV trial in Europe, involving 340 cars from a variety of manufacturers and including a small number of plug-in hybrids and hydrogen-fuel-cell cars. It is due to last another nine months as more data is collected.
‘The transition to EVs has been quite easy for the majority of drivers,’ Andrew Everett, the TSB’s head of transport, told The Engineer. ‘People are using them and they are doing the job people want.’
The number of private drivers who felt that EVs had a poorer performance than conventional vehicles fell during the trial but remained a majority — 60 per cent down from 84 per cent, according to a draft of the study’s interim report seen by The Engineer.
However, most people still said their EV satisfied their daily needs, with 83 per cent of private drivers reporting positively after three months and 63 per cent of fleet drivers saying the same, although this figure was down from 76 per cent at the start of the trial.
‘Part of the reason for the study is to allow vehicle manufacturers to see these results and they may pick up the performance issue and say “we need to do more on that”,’ said Everett.
‘There’s not going to be a binary switch between conventional vehicles and all-electric vehicles. There’s going to be a wide variety of vehicles as time goes on and pure-electric vehicles aren’t the only answer for everybody’s requirements.’
The report also showed that 95 per cent of private drivers found EVs as easy to use as petrol cars, but that most of them (74 per cent) found they needed to plan their journeys further in advance. Most fleet drivers (65 per cent) found they didn’t require more planning.
For both fleet and private drivers, the low amount of noise from EVs was much less of an issue than anticipated, with most saying it was a positive factor and not potentially dangerous after three months.
Despite the fall in range anxiety, there was still a large disparity between both the average and the longest journey length made by the drivers and the distance they expected to drive.
The average daily mileage rate was 25.5 miles for fleet drivers and 24 miles for private drivers. More than 60 per cent of journeys were below five miles and 99 per cent of journeys were below 40 miles. The maximum journey length was 100.1 miles.