AN EXTENSIVE trial of 11 converted electric vehicles in Perth involving state and local governments, the private sector, and UWA is providing comprehensive data on how electric vehicles can be a part of WA infrastructure.
The first electric vehicles hit the roads of Perth when the WA Electric Vehicle Trial began officially in November 2010.
The vehicles have been providing constant data as part of UWA’s Renewable Electric Vehicle (REV).
UWA School of Electrical & Computer Engineering Professor Thomas Bräunl says, “The cars have been road tested to 130km. All the cars have black boxes installed so we know exactly where cars have been driven, their trip lengths, and daily distances”. “We also know if drivers are using air-conditioning, heating or headlights. We also know when the car is being [re]charged or how quickly [discharge occurs] while driving,” he says.
The most serious issue reported were cars running out of power because the fuel gauge was not as accurate as expected. Half of the cars in the trial did not have additional sensors installed to provide accurate readings to try to save costs.
Data is also being collected from fast charging stations installed around Perth as part of the trial in an Australian Research Council funded project.
“We get data on which car is charging and when. There are some charging stations that are more heavily used than others. Some cars use charging stations only, other cars charge at the stations, at home or at work.”
The UWA Business School is collecting feedback from the drivers of the electric vehicles of the trial.
“In general, the drivers are satisfied and have confidence in driving the electric vehicles. The benefits that the drivers are convinced of, include home recharging and less carbon emissions,” says PhD student Ms Fakhra Jabeen.
Key barriers identified by drivers involved with the trial are the limited range of the electric vehicles, limited number of recharging stations.
The next stage for the WA Electric Vehicle Trial is an expansion of the charging station network and using faster charging stations reducing fast charging times from three hours to 30 minutes.
“We would also have stations between Perth and Margaret River, a popular holiday destination,” says Prof Bräunl.
“As a showcase we would have a number of stations along the Perth to Bunbury highway and in the countryside. That would allow cars to travel [further from Perth] and only needing relatively short stops for recharging,” he says.