Energy Systems Catapult is making data from the UK’s largest mainstream consumer trial of electric vehicles (EVs) and smart charging available to “innovators”.

The three year trial saw 450 mainstream consumers carrying out 584,000 miles of journeys and 15,700 charging events using electric and plug in hybrid cars.

The Consumers, Vehicles and Energy Integration (CVEI) project showed:

  • 90% of mainstream consumers would consider a battery electric vehicle (BEV) as a main car if its real world range was 300 miles (500km(or a plug in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) if it could travel 100 miles (160km) on its battery alone while 50% would consider a BEV if the range was 200 miles (300km).
  • Mainstream consumers were willing to pay more for EVs, as long as the saving on running costs delivered a payback in fewer than five years (ie willing to pay an extra GBP4.70 in upfront cost per GBP1/yr saving in running costs).
  • 95% of the drivers provided with a BEV and 85% with a PHEV chose smart over dumb charging to automatically avoid charging at times of peak grid demand or when electricity is most expensive.
  • Younger men (under 34) were most likely to adopt PHEVs, middle aged (40-60) people were most likely to adopt BEVs, older women (over 60) were least likely to adopt any EV.

Energy Systems Catapult business head Liam Lidstone said: “There are many challenges and opportunities involved in transitioning to secure and sustainable low-carbon vehicles.

“Significant benefits include improved air quality, decarbonisation, and potential economic growth. Yet there are barriers to overcome with consumer uptake and behaviour, integration of vehicles with the energy supply system, market structures and government policy.

“Sales of electric vehicles are running at 69% year on year growth, while charging infrastructure growth is at 31%. Current dual fuel households driving all miles on electricity, would nearly double their overall electricity use. While just 30% of motorists currently drive over 60% of miles, so electric vehicles that meet the needs of higher than average mileage drivers are particularly important.

“These are just some of the challenges that might be overcome by giving innovators better access to trial data.

“But there are also massive economic opportunities. The EV Energy Taskforce has recommended that smart charging infrastructure is designed and operated as an integrated part of the developing smart grid. Analysis from the CVEI project shows savings of up to GBP6.5bn in network reinforcement and system operating cost could be delivered by 2050s.”

The CVEI trial data is now publicly available on the USMART platform.

For the Vehicle Uptake Trial, 200 consumers experienced each version of a VW Golf for four days – including conventional ICE, BEV and PHEV – to understand the barriers and motivations influencing the uptake of plug in electric vehicles by mainstream consumers.

The Charging Behaviour Trial gave 247 consumers either a BEV or PHEV version of the Golf over a two-month period. Data was collected from journeys and charging events to understand the effects of different managed charging schemes on charging behaviour, how likely participants are to engage with managed charging, and to identify factors that could encourage engagement.

The data can provide insight into how mass market consumers use and charge both BEVs and PHEVs. The data also reflects how different managed charging tariff options affect these behaviours (both user managed charging and supplier managed charging in different seasons. It could also help to understand the changes that will be required of existing infrastructure to accelerate the growth in low carbon transport.

CVEI was commissioned and funded by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), and delivered by a consortium led by TRL. Energy Systems Catapult provided technical expertise and assurance to the project and now owns the data and models.

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