MINI releases initial findings from 12-month EV trial in UK
A total of 40 vehicles have been run in two consecutive six-month field trials on UK roads.
The project has been supported by the Technology Strategy Board and Department for Transport’s £25 million Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles Demonstrator Programme, which is aimed at accelerating the introduction of viable electric passenger vehicles to the UK.
During the UK trial the MINI E was tested by a mixture of 80 private, corporate and public sector drivers who between them covered over a quarter of a million miles.
The findings will ultimately be used in the engineering and infrastructure support of mass-produced electric vehicles and establish the social and economic issues and aspects of running an electric car.
The final results of the MINI E UK study will be released this summer, however results from the first three months of the trial from December 2009 have already been analysed and the key findings are as follows:
• MINI E usage differs only marginally from a control group of conventional car drivers in terms of average journey distance, daily mileage and frequency of use.
• Before the trials began, users expected limitations in terms of range and charging times. In practice these have only proved to be barriers in a very few specific cases.
• Users felt reassured that both the MINI E itself and the charging process are completely safe.
• There was a very strong feeling from both private and fleet users that renewable energy should play an important role in future electricity generation. There was also a strong feeling that the battery of an electric vehicle (EV) should be charged using renewables to optimise the ecological advantages of an EV.
• Users reported a need for more interior space for journeys requiring more passengers and more storage capacity.
• Users felt strongly that public charging facilities for EVs were desirable and even essential. However, at the same time, the majority claimed that they coped without public charging facilities.
In summary, users liked MINI E’s lack of noise, the convenience of home charging, low off peak power charges, not having to go to a petrol station and queue, driving a zero emissions vehicle, MINI E’s acceleration characteristics and regenerative braking.
Drawbacks include current mileage range for certain journeys, limited carrying capacity and sub-optimal car performance during the extremely cold weather conditions in December 2009 and January 2010.
Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board said: ‘The culmination of this data marks a major milestone on the road towards electrification of UK vehicles, and takes us a step closer to reaching our carbon emission reduction targets of 80% by 2050.'
The MINI E is the first product of BMW’s project i – a programme designed to research and develop transport strategies and new types of vehicles for sustainable mobility. As well as in the UK trials have been conducted in the USA and Germany, and have recently launched in France, China and Japan.