Low Carbon Vehicles Get The Thumbs Up In Year Long Trial

Cabled ProjectCabled, a consortium of twelve organisations part funded by the Technology Strategy Board and Advantage West Midlands, is a public project to demonstrate the long term, real world, usage of low carbon vehicles and to encourage their uptake. As part of the Climate Change Bill the UK is aiming to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 26% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels and the mass uptake of low carbon vehicles could help achieve that ambitious target as, according to Cabled, almost 20% of all the UK carbon dioxide emissions are from road transport.

Cabled ProjectAt a recent event, held at the Arup Campus in Solihull, interim results were announced based on a year long trial of drivers testing out a range of carbon vehicles including the Mitsubish i MiEV, the smart fortwo electric drive, the Tata Indica Vista EV, and the Microcab hydrogen.

At the outset of the project members of the public were requested to submit an expression of interest for inclusion in the project and, of the 2,500 received, 400 applications were considered for inclusion. The drivers not only tested the vehicles but also the supporting infrastructure including home charging and public charging points. In all 110 vehicles were used for the test, from six manufacturers, and 35-40 public charging points were made available.

Most Common Journey Length Was Under Ten Miles

Cabled ProjectOver the period of the project around 640,000 miles were travelled with the maximum journey length being 88 miles (although not all vehicles in the test are capable of such a distance) – an interesting statistic is that the most common journey distance was less than 10 miles with an average daily mileage of 25.4 miles. The average cost per charge was found to be 98p (based on a 13.6p/kWh industry average rate) and just 44p (based on a 6.0p/kWh Economy 7 night rate). There were two clear demand peaks for charging, these were between 10pm and 2am (primarily charging at home) and 9am to 11am (primarily charging at work). Other headline messages from the interim results included how drivers quickly adapted to electric vehicles and learned to trust the range of the vehicles based on their individual experiences. In addition electric vehicles were found to be well matched for households with multiple vehicles.

Trial Drivers Generally Positive About Low Carbon Vehicles

Cabled ProjectFollowing the interim results a question and answer session was held with a number of the trial participants who provided some fascinating insights into the driving experience of which the majority of the feedback was positive. One participant, Adrian Berry (pictured along with Shona Walton and Robert Byrne), said “It’s much better. I expected to be continually worried about whether I would have enough electricity to get about but you soon get used to it.” whilst other views included highlighting “the importance of planning journeys – diversions could potentially spell disaster.” whilst Shona Walton (pictured) described the quieter driving experience as “being more in touch with the environment.

One of the more common points raised was regarding the availability and condition of public charging points including concerns over charging spaces being used for parking by regular vehicles and damage found to public charging points although whether this was vandalism or a design issue remained unclear.

More Public Charging Points Are Needed

It is clear from the feedback from the participants that for concerns over running short of electricity to be alleviated a significant increase in public charging points (particularly fast charging points) is required. Since the project started over 200 expressions of interest have been received by enterprises interested in installing charging posts and these range from public bodies, private business, and transport hubs, to domestic users. For consistency and to ensure a continued quality of service the plans are for these charging posts to be operated from a common back office system.

For more information head over to Cabled.

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Jason Slater

Jason Slater is a technology blogger and the editor of jasonslater.com.

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