Study re­veals habits of elec­tric fortwo driv­ers

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

WHEELS has been keep­ing track on how the big car sellers are pre­par­ing to make and sell cars to a new gen­er­a­tion of car buy­ers who would rather share than own a car, and who don’t want to be held hostage to high oil prices.

Mercedes-Benz con­ducted an eMerge study that looked at how 146 driv­ers of smart fortwo elec­tric cars used their ve­hi­cles over a two-year pe­riod.

In to­tal, the cars cov­ered more than 997 700 km. The most ef­fi­cient car in the group used just 10,4 kWh of elec­tric­ity per 100 kilo­me­tres and the car that went the fur­thest on a full charge cov­ered 161 kilo­me­tres.

Of­fi­cial num­bers for the cars are 16,3 kWh per 100 kilo­me­tres and 145 kilo­me­tres of range.

The eMerge study col­lected data con­cern­ing when and where the cars were recharged. Data such as charg­ing time and charg­ing fre­quency were also col­lected and eval­u­ated. The driv­ers were also in­ter­viewed regularly.

The study re­vealed sev­eral in­ter­est­ing con­clu­sions that will help the elec­tric car in­dus­try un­der­stand the mar­ket­place for its cars.

It found that the typ­i­cal sup­porter of elec­tric mo­bil­ity is ed­u­cated and tech-savvy, with an above-av­er­age in­come. It also found that the less an in­ter­vie­wee knew about elec­tric mo­bil­ity, the more neg­a­tive their opin­ion, which sup­ports the idea that to gain gen­eral ac­cep­tance of elec­tric cars, it is im­por­tant to get more of them on the road so that oth­ers can see them and learn about them.

Not sur­pris­ingly, the pur­chase price is a key cri­te­rion for or against an elec­tric car, but many peo­ple do not know how much an EV can save in fuel costs.

The ideal tar­get group in the study turned out to be com­muters who drive a daily dis­tance of 48 kilo­me­tres or more. Peo­ple in that group are able to fully ap­pre­ci­ate the low op­er­at­ing and main­te­nance costs of an elec­tric car.

The key fac­tors in the de­ci­sion to drive an EV are range, per­for­mance, space and charg­ing time. Ac­cess to a public charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture is deemed im­por­tant as well. Im­age was very im­por­tant to the study group, whereas en­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness was of mi­nor im­por­tance. That last point should come as no sur­prise as our cars are of­ten an ex­ten­sion of our per­son­al­ity; what we drive says who we are.

Mercedes is about to be­gin the eMerge2 study, which will in­volve 200 cars, in­clud­ing the B Class EV and var­i­ous Mercedes plug-in hy­brids. The new study is de­signed to iden­tify dif­fer­ences in how us­age pat­terns vary be­tween driv­ers of bat­tery elec­tric cars and those with plug-in hy­brid ca­pa­bil­ity. In a press re­lease about the new study, Mercedes said that it plans on hav­ing 10 plug-in hy­brid mod­els by 2017. It also says it is con­tem­plat­ing more bat­tery elec­tric and fu­el­cell cars. — WR.

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