Brookes helps drive national low carbon strategy

Thursday, 10 October 2013

MINI E

A report just published by Oxford Brookes University and the Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies (CENEX) reveals 90 per cent of motorists who took part in trials of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK would recommend battery-powered cars to friends.

Teams at Oxford Brookes University have been at the heart of studies exploring the performance of electric vehicles in all types of driving and weather conditions as well as learning about the experiences of the drivers themselves.

The Sustainable Vehicle Engineering Centre (SVEC) and the Psychology Department started working together in 2009 on a two-year trial of electric MINIs built by BMW around the south-east of England.

The Government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB) then asked the small team in the Psychology department, led by Dr Mark Burgess, to study the experiences of drivers in trials that took place around the UK to gain extensive feedback on what drivers thought of the cars and using them day-to-day. The report by Oxford Brookes and CENEX reveals:

• 80 per cent of trial drivers see EVs as a viable mobility option
• 72 per cent of trial drivers say an EV is sufficient for their daily needs
• 91 per cent of trial drivers would recommend EVs
• Half of trial drivers intend to replace their car with an EV

The findings are now being used by the UK Government to construct policy supporting integration of EVs into the transport network. Successive governments have committed to cutting national carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, with an aim to have a UK car fleet with zero emissions within that timeframe.

The findings have been sent across Government Departments including the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the Department for Transport, Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), together with many car manufacturers and energy firms.

Mark commented: "Analysis of all our data consistently showed that electric cars are viable for everyday life. The majority of barriers relate to psychological factors rather than practical ones."

After BMW led the way in the electric car trials, a number of manufacturers then tested their own electric vehicles across the UK for two-and-a-half years.

In all, 19 car makers ran 349 vehicles which covered more that 1.5 million miles between them. The psychology department collaborated with engineers from CENEX to integrate person-oriented and machine-oriented data. Driver’s daily mileage in electric vehicles was comparable to that of normal cars and 4/5ths of drivers could complete trips without an extensive public charging infrastructure.