Data from UK’s largest mainstream consumer electric vehicle trial opens to innovators for World EV Day

Published: 9 September 2020

To coincide with World EV Day, Energy Systems Catapult has given innovators access to unique and comprehensive data from the UK’s largest mainstream consumer trial of electric vehicles (EVs) and smart charging.

With 450 mainstream consumers carrying out 584,000 miles of journeys and 15,700 charging events using electric and plug-in hybrid cars, the 3-year Consumers, Vehicles and Energy Integration (CVEI) project deliver unique and detailed insights into:

  • Consumer perceptions and attitudes of battery (BEV) and hybrid (PHEV) electric vehicles compared to the same Internal Combustion Engine car
  • Consumer behaviour when using and charging EVs, including managed EV smart charging
  • Changes required of existing infrastructure to ensure growth in low carbon transport.

Key findings from the CVEI project included:

  • 90% of mainstream consumers would consider a Battery Electric Vehicles as a main car if its real-world range was 300 miles or a PHEV if it could travel 100 miles on its battery alone; while 50% would consider a BEV if the range was 200 miles.
  • Mainstream consumers were willing to pay more for EVs, as long as the saving on running costs delivered a payback in fewer than 5 years (ie. willing to pay an extra £4.70 in upfront cost per £1/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 years old) people were most likely to adopt BEVs, older women (over 60) were least likely to adopt any EV.

Energy Systems Catapult business leader 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 £6.5 billion in network reinforcement and system operating cost could be delivered by 2050s.”

EV Trial data now publicly available on the USMART platform

We have made the consumer electric vehicle trial data from the CVEI project, publicly available on USMART for the first time.

  • Data from the Vehicle Uptake Trial where 200 mainstream consumers experienced each version of a VW Golf for four days – including conventional petrol (or ICE), fully battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) – to understand the barriers and motivations influencing the uptake of plug-in electric vehicles by mainstream consumers.
  • Data from the Charging Behaviour Trial where 247 mainstream consumers were given either a fully battery-electric (BEV) or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of a VW 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 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (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). Importantly, it could help to understand the changes that will be required of existing infrastructure to accelerate the growth in low carbon transport.

What was the CVEI project?

CVEI was an innovative and ambitious project commissioned and funded by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), and delivered by a cross-industry consortium led by TRL.

Energy Systems Catapult provided technical expertise and assurance to the project and now owns the data and models to provide future development of the CVEI capability from the ETI legacy.