From a war of words between Cnet UK and Fully Charged over whether electric cars still suck, to my tentative suggestion that electric cars' range limitations might prove to be their biggest benefit, there has been much speculation over what a move to electric cars would really mean—and just how relevant are issues like range anxiety, upfront cost, and access to charging as hurdles to mass adoption? Leo Hickman over at The Guardian reports back on the results of long term road trials of the Mini E in the UK, and it would seem there is both reason to get excited, and still some significant hurdles to overcome. From the price tag to some very real concerns about driving range, the drivers involved in the study certainly reported some major issues. But, crucially, many were enthusiastic about the experience, and the real-world usage showed significant evidence that range anxiety is based more on perception than reality:
The trial data BMW has collected over the past 18 months is telling it that the perception many of us have that we need a vehicle with an extended range just isn't borne out by the facts. It has found that the average "trip distance" driven by its Mini E pioneers was 8.6 miles, and that the average daily distance driven was 27.5 miles. This largely mirrors the data it received from a control sample of drivers using the "normal" Mini Cooper. It also found that the pioneers were charging their cars an average of 2.7 times a week. And, when quizzed, most said that they expected to be an owner of an electric car within five to 10 years; good news for the government's climate change watchdog that wants to see 1.7m electric cars on UK roads by 2020.
See TreeHugger's own road test of the Mini E for more on this car. But for those wanting to get one of their own, you may be disappointed—the Mini E will not see commercial production, but should provide crucial testing and real world experience for the design of an all electric BMW.