Last month, I was able to spend a couple of days driving around Yorkshire and the North West with an engineer from Canadian company CrossChasm with the purpose of installing data loggers in the cars of enthusiastic and willing EV drivers. The objective is to help the Rapid Charge Network project to study the driving and charging behaviour of electric vehicle drivers on the route of the new network and to investigate if things change because of the rapid charge points that the project will install.

For me, I can honestly say, it’s been the most informative and fun couple of days I’ve spent at work in a while. An enormous thanks to all the drivers who I met along the way. Having worked in the EV world for over four years now, I’ve found that some of the most informative conversations I have had are with EV drivers themselves, they are using the infrastructure regularly and it’s great to hear their views and share opinions. It’s also amazing to think that from our company’s beginnings (installing charge points in North East England) we are playing a small part in helping drivers the length of the country to drive that little bit further through this network. It was great to hear that the drivers we met were already pushing their range, more than once did I hear stories about reaching charge points on turtle mode and many of the drivers were making considerable journeys in the UK in their vehicles with plans to go even further as more charge points are installed. All these journeys are going to give Newcastle University, who are leading on the study, some great data to analyse.

Throughout the trip, I also learned a lot about CrossChasm. It is their Fleet Carma data loggers that we are installing in the cars and I was fascinated to see how easy they were to install and how instantly we were getting data from the car, seeing when driver’s plugged in, their state of battery when they did so, where they charged and lots more. The same company is currently running an indieGogo project called My EV which enables people to get access to similar data via an app which helps drivers to understand each journey and how efficient they have been. I’m an addict of fitness apps such as Nike Plus and Map my Run and could easily see how people would become addicted to this app which was do user friendly and provided an analysis of every single journey.

The other thing that spending time with a Canadian colleague did was that it made me realise how the issues and interests we have in the UK are actually the same the world over. This is still a new market and a lot of the data we will be studying though this project and the links that we are making, both locally with the drivers taking part but also internationally through communicating our findings, will hopefully have a major impact and will support the building of networks throughout the world.

Last month was only the beginning but the data coming from the cars is already giving Newcastle University a great starting point. Most importantly I really hope that the data will show these EV pioneers are driving further and for longer because they will soon have a bigger and greater choice of rapid chargers to hand.

The Rapid Charge Network project is funded by the European Union’s TEN-T project and is a partnership of Nissan, BMW, ESB, Renault and VW with support from Zero Carbon Futures and Newcastle University.

Zero Carbon Futures is an electric vehicle consultancy which manages and delivers projects which help towns and cities increase EV uptake.

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