Study reveals habits of electric fortwo drivers
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.