Cennex reports findings of electric car trial

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Cenex − the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for low-carbon vehicle technologies − has announced the results of a six-month trial of electric passenger cars it ran in the North East of England.

One of the key findings of the ’Smart Move’ trial was that 72 per cent of the 264 participants stated after the trial that they would be happy to use an electric vehicle as their regular car.

The trial’s main objective was to study the integration of electric vehicles into fleets, with an emphasis on the efficiency and performance of the vehicles. 10 organisations took part, integrating one to four electric two-seater passenger cars into their fleets and allowing qualitative and quantitative data to be collected.

After the trial, 88 per cent of fleet managers felt more positive about incorporating electric vehicles into fleets, despite a lack of public charging infrastructure, and 58 per cent of fleet users felt generally more positive about the electric vehicles.

Anxieties over the range of the vehilces mean that 93 per cent of the journeys started with over 50 per cent battery charge and that maximum journey length was only 25 per cent of the typical vehicle range capability.

Test drivers and fleet users in the 20-30 age group experienced the highest opinion shift in favour of electric-vehicle ownership.

The trial showed that there is a potential for fleet operators to be early adopters of electric vehicles, having gained confidence that EVs can realistically form part of their transport fleet. Due to the return-to-base operation of fleets, the lack of a public recharging infrastructure was not seen as a barrier to the integration of EVs.

Fleet managers highlighted the main barriers to EV integration as purchase price and limited range, although the quantitative data from the vehicles’ telemetry systems showed that users were over-cautious when planning journeys.

’Drivers tended to be over-cautious when planning journeys and seemed unwilling to push the vehicles to anything approaching their limits. This highlights the need for more public education about the capabilities of modern EVs and more sophisticated range-prediction aids onboard to increase driver confidence,’ said Chris Walsh, head of Consultancy and Technical Support at Cenex.

Cenex intends to undertake additional EV trials throughout 2010 and beyond. These trials will build on the Smart Move Trial and further assist organisations to decarbonise fleets, while making informed choices about the most suitable vehicles available to them.

Click here for a description of the trial and initial results.