The conference "Electric Vehicles - Overcoming Barriers, Driving Adoption Conference" could have been more pithily named "Commercial and Private Electric Vehicles" for that was the focus, from incentives to user experience and technical improvements planned. The bombardment of short presentations to the 70 or so people present worked well.
Some of the main takeaways were that sales of pure electric on-road cars and vans have been below expectations. One cited reason was new internal combustion engine ICE cars being cheap and the other is the need to put them only in applications where they can cope. The sales proposition is attractive to commercial users with high upfront cost but lower cost of running and of maintenance. The refocus is now on fleets, commuters and company cars and total cost of ownership, though meeting the green agenda is also important. Those using these cars and similar vehicles are almost always very happy with them. However, the business case for pure electric on-road vehicles is more niche than in the case of ICE ones. That much from the Danish EV Alliance (with 97% of users happy) and Aston University. The leaf was well received by staff of several companies reporting. The Renault Kangoo never got anywhere near to its claimed 80 miles range said JC Decaux, even bombing at 25 miles range in winter.
Oxford Brookes University advised that EVs should look different from conventional cars and vans. At present they do not. People demand that they cost the same - not yet realistic. People perceive that they drive further than they do, which does not help sales but of course, they do need long range for vacations and emergencies.
Interestingly, UPS, the world's biggest courier company, said that after a false start with Modec which went bust, they are now trialling some converted Mercedes vans and e-trikes registered in Europe as motorcycles, are attractive.
The Heathrow driverless e-pods that carry passengers from car park to terminal 5 were described by the airport as a great success, despite fork lift lead acid batteries being used. Next come lithium-ion batteries, inductive charging and better sensing.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service is keen on EVs partly because diesel emissions have been designated as carcinogenic - not in line with their image. Indeed, with 1490 response vehicles intensively used and 18,000 vehicles overall, the UK National Health Service NHS is responsible for 5% of road traffic and massive emissions of diesel fumes. Antidotes the Nissan Leaf are performing well with no range problems because they are used only on suitable missions. With methanol fuel cells, solar power, aerodynamics and range improvement (or less battery) from Protean Electric in-wheel motors being examined, much is being done. They have one single Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. Other sessions covered range improvement, usage patterns, vehicle integration, the troublesome secondhand market, charging infrastructure economics and rollout strategies for large corporate users.
Top image: Decisivelatino