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TRL leads the charge

TRL has announced the results of its latest ground-breaking research, revealing tipping points for when mainstream consumers will be likely to adopt both full and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

The Consumers, Vehicles and Energy Integration (CVEI) project, completed for the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), provides evidence for how the increased electricity demand from these vehicles can be managed, and reviews how the speed of transition could be accelerated with collaboration between agencies, governments and consumer groups.

Dr George Beard, TRL’s head of ULEV Consumer Research, and technical lead for the CVEI Trials, explained: ‘The trials undertaken as part of the CVEI project are the first and largest of their kind. We provided 447 mainstream consumers with real-world experience of using both Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) for their day-to-day journey needs.

‘The ‘Consumer Uptake Trial’ examined the barriers and motivators which influence mainstream consumer adoption of BEVs and PHEVs. We provided consumers with direct back-to-back experience of using a pure electric (BEV), a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and an equivalent conventional petrol engine car. By providing this real-world experience, we were able to gather more representative views of mainstream consumers about the extent to which electric vehicles serve their needs.’

Across the trials, in-depth data on mainstream consumers’ attitudes, perceptions and choices were gathered from surveys, and detailed information was gathered from vehicles and chargepoints for 584,000 miles of journeys and 15,700 charge events, covering both home and public locations. The results have produced the most comprehensive picture of the future of UK road transport in the electric powered era, and has defined the ‘tipping-point’ in terms of consumer choice.

Selected key findings include:

  • 50 per cent of mainstream consumers indicated they would likely choose a PHEV as a main or second household car, or a BEV as a second car, in the next five years
  • 50 per cent of mainstream consumers would consider a BEV as a main car if its range increased to 200 miles; increasing to 90 per cent of mainstream consumers if the range was 300 miles
  • Mainstream consumer adoption of BEVs can be encouraged through provision of rapid charging infrastructure every 20 miles on motorways and A-roads; providing rapid chargers with 150kW charging rates is also likely to increase adoption
  • Among a range of potential incentives to support electric vehicle adoption, those with direct financial impacts were rated highest in importance by participants. A grant towards purchase price was rated most important.

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