Fleet bosses and drivers back EVs in Mini trial.
Fleets and company car drivers who took part in BMW Group’s Government-supported research into the day-to-day running of electric cars have given the Mini E the thumbs up.
The manufacturer says that understanding how electric cars are driven in the real world has taken an important step forward with the release of data from the UK Mini E field trial, which involved 62 members of the public and 76 pool users running the battery-powered hatchbacks over two six-month periods.
Headline data from the trial revealed that more than 250,000 miles were driven on UK roads, the average cost to charge the cars was less than 2p per mile, virtually all recharging was carried out at home and the average daily distance driven was 29.7 miles.
Fleet use was a big part of the trial with organisations in the UK and in Europe reporting positive feedback from both individual drivers and also fleet managers monitoring the Mini E’s use as a pool car.
Those users who swapped out of their regular car reported that the Mini E was fine for 70% of journeys made during the working day, while the pool car success rate was even better with between 80-90% of regular trips achievable.
The speed of charging was an important consideration for fleet users, while managers also flagged up the need for a clear procedure for the efficient charging of pool vehicles. Companies that participated included Scottish and Southern Energy, Oxfordshire County Council, and Oxford City Council.
Four out of five people reported that 80% of their trips could be done exclusively in the Mini E, and this increased to 90% of users saying that with the addition of rear seats and a bigger boot, all their trips could have been done in the Mini E.
The trial found that one week was all that was needed for customers to adapt to the characteristics and peculiarities of driving an EV, such as charging, range, regenerative braking and low noise.
However those company car drivers invited to use the Mini E as a pool car on a less frequent basis needed increased training and support during the initial period of vehicle use in order to consolidate their learning.
The Mini E trial was one of eight UK projects supported by the £25 million Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator Programme, funded by the Technology Strategy Board and Department for Transport. These are aimed at bringing forward the introduction of viable electric passenger vehicles to the UK.
The early findings have already informed the development of the 2011 BMW ActiveE car, a four-seat car based on the 1 Series Coupe, but the biggest beneficiary will be the BMW i3, which will be the first purpose-built electric vehicle from the BMW Group, set for launch in 2013.
Suzanne Gray, General Manager of BMW i said: “The feedback from the trial has been invaluable in helping our understanding of how people really respond to electric cars and other factors necessary to support electric car drivers. “With this information we will be in a strong position to provide a well-rounded product and service proposition to customers of the i3 and to work with other players in the electric vehicle market to make it a successful experience for a new generation of users.”
Forty Mini E cars took part in the trial. The Mini E is a two-seat development of the familiar Mini Hatch. It is powered by a 204 bhp electric motor that also generates 220 Nm of torque.
The 40 Mini Es are still on UK roads in partnership activities which continue to promote awareness and understanding of electric vehicles, and they will form part of the BMW Group UK’s official vehicle fleet for the London 2012 Olympic Games.