Tom Keighley

Member Article

Study examines driver perceptions of electric vehicles

Drivers who switch to an electric vehicle, tend to be more thoughtful in the way they use their cars, a new study has found.

Research carried out by Newcastle University, as part of the SwitchEV project, has shown that will an electric car, drivers will think twice about making unnecessary journeys, and are generally more environmentally conscious of the journeys they make.

The team from Newcastle say this is an ‘added benefit’ that further reduces the environmental impact of electric vehicles.

However, the study also found drivers tended to make increased journeys to city centre locations, where public charging posts are sited.

Phil Blythe, research lead and Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems at the University, said: “In an electric vehicle, drivers reported being very aware of the battery charge and this made them think twice about hopping in the car for a journey which they could perhaps walk or maybe combine with another trip out.

“However, we also found that drivers tend not to worry about range anxiety once they are familiar with the electric vehicle, as they trust the information the vehicles tell them about available range and plan journeys accordingly.”

Edmund King, AA president and visiting professor at Newcastle University added: “The recent fuel shortages have started to make many drivers think twice about the discretionary trips they make.

“This study shows that EV drivers are one step ahead and tend to cut out unnecessary journeys to preserve their battery charge. Once behind the wheel of an electric vehicle, range anxiety becomes a thing of the past and these EVs have a real chance of being part of our future.”

The study put drivers behind the wheel of electric cars and recorded their perceptions about the experience.

One trialist commented: “I think there’s four things for me which are best about the EV. The fact that it is zero emissions is great, the fact that it is very cheap to recharge it compared to refuelling an internal combustion engine (ICE) makes it really good, the EV is a really smooth drive, and I think along with everyone else, you get a really good feeling when you go downhill and see the battery is recharging.”

Drivers also reported feeling calmer and more in control in an EV, and even pride in driving a greener vehicle.

Another said: “My last car was an Audi TT, the one before that was a Jaguar XK8 so we are used to putting the foot down and hammering off, and it’s been lovely, I have to say, to suddenly discover a new way, a new peaceful less stressed way of driving and we both actually thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Professor Blythe also added that a switch to electric vehicles resulted in safer driving. He said: “Because drivers were trying to conserve battery power, they didn’t push their car and tended to stay well within the speed limit.

“The unintended benefit was one of improved safety, bringing down driving speeds.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tom Keighley .

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