DAVIS, Calif., — The University of the, California and Davis BMW Group today released the largest publicly available study of electric-car users – including over 120 families who drove the fully electric MINI E automobile more than 1 million miles in California, New York and New Jersey from June 2009 to June 2010. According to UC Davis researchers, the report shows that the participants found the cars to be fun yet practical, easy to drive and recharge, and many said they would buy an electric car in the next 5yrs.
As battery electric vehicles (BEVs) enter the commercial marketplace for the first time, the results of this year-long study by the UC Davis Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center provide valuable understanding of new techniques that consumers value BEVs. The UC Davis study is an element of a whole set of studies being conducted by the BMW Group on electric vehicles, which includes research in China, Germany and also the U.K.
Through online and telephone surveys of the participating households, and diaries and also in-person interviews using a subset of more than 40 households, the UC Davis MINI E research team examined user behavior, infrastructureuse and costs, environmental benefits, along with other aspects of electric driving.
One of the key findings of the study are the following:
• 100% of respondents said BEVs are fun to drive and practical for daily use
• Respondents said the cars met 90% of their daily driving needs
• 71% of respondents drove less than 40 miles/day; 95% drove less than 80 miles/day
• 99% of respondents said home charging was easy to use
• 71% of respondents said they are now more likely to purchase a BEV than they were this past year while only 9% said they can be less likely.
• 88% of respondents said they are interested in getting a BEV or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in the next five-years
• At the end of the lease period, MINI E drivers overwhelmingly believed that the electricity for charging their BEV should are derived from renewable resources such as solar, wind and hydropower, and were strongly opposed to using coal to generate electricity with regard to their vehicles.
Compelling combination of neat and fun
UC Davis Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center director Tom Turrentine said the study highlights three new and potentially significant techniques that drivers value BEVs. First, the MINI E meets drivers’ desire for a vehicle that may be both eco-friendly and fun to drive. Drivers loved the vehicle’s quick acceleration and quiet operation.
What we heard time and time again again within our interviews is how fun it was to drive. Turrentine said, that’s to some extent because it’s a MINI and in part because of the feel of electric drive.
Second, drivers find value in employing electricity as being a fuel and also in mastering their individual energy use through efficient driving behaviors. The mix of limited onboard energy and extreme efficiency make BEVs the premier appliance for people to enjoy energy use, says Turrentine. Additionally, the drivers learned to appreciate the car’s powerful regenerative braking function, which returns energy for the battery and allowed these to drive utilizing a single pedal for acceleration and braking.
Third, drivers like to develop their clean driving territory. Drivers start talking about the MINI E as a special way to explore their region. They like to share where they can go in their MINI E, Turrentine says, even though they needless to say can go anywhere in their gas car.
Range anxiety not much of a big issue for experienced MINI E drivers
While range is often held up as a limitation of BEVs, the MINI E’s range of around 100 miles was acceptable to most drivers most of the time. We found that households adapted their driving round the capabilities of the vehicle and even explored methods to maximize the use of the MINI E, said Turrentine.
Researchers could actually determine that strategic placement of charging stations could allow drivers to reach most of their desired destinations employing a BEV that includes a range of 90 to 100 miles, by studying the MINI E drivers’ usage patterns and want for range. Most charging occurred at home, at night, and 99% of respondents said home charging was user friendly.
BMW Group prepares 2nd phase of the EV strategy with BMW ActiveE
The MINI E studies are incredibly valuable for us as they show that electric cars are already today offering an appealing mobility solution to a broader spectrum of clients. While decreasing the tail pipe emissions to zero, the MINI E provides the fun that users expect when driving our products. The results of the UC Davis study have a direct impact on the growth of all BMW Group electric vehicles ahead, says Ulrich Kranz, head of project i, BMW Group. BMW Group is now developing the next generation of full electric cars, together with the BMW ActiveE test fleet coming into the market in 2011 along with the series production BMW i3 following in 2013.
The all-electric BMW ActiveE will be available in select US markets beginning in late 2011, for a two-year lease at $499/month, with a $2,250 advance payment. Details is available at www.BMWUSA.com/ActiveE. Join the growing conversation about the future of mobility at www.BMWActivatetheFuture.com.