SWEDEN Electric car drivers are generally satisfied with their cars and don’t want to change. More people would opt for electric cars if they knew more about chargeable vehicles and more charging stations were available. This transpires from a study of five years’ experience by hundreds of drivers of electric and hybrid vehicles within the scope of a project which has led to more electric vehicles being used in Sweden. 

Over 900 new electric vehicles are currently on the roads in Sweden, some ten per cent of all the country’s electric cars – that is the conclusion of an electric car procurement project run jointly by Vattenfall and Stockholm municipality. Knowledge about electric vehicles has also increased and become more widespread. 

“Electric car procurement has been extremely important for the introduction of electric vehicles in Sweden. Follow-up studies show that people who had tried out electric cars are highly satisfied with them. But there is a need for a better infrastructure if this development is to move faster,” says Martin Prieto Beaulieu of Gröna bilister (the Green Motorists Association).

Drivers want to avoid range anxiety
It became apparent that over 98 per cent of all business trips made with electric cars are less than 70 kilometres. That corresponds to only half the range of many models of electric cars. Electric car drivers admit that this low usage is due to their wish to avoid range anxiety, the fear of running out of power while out on the road. It seems that they need to get back with their batteries still half full in order not to worry. In winter, the use of electric cars is further reduced for two reasons: poor heating systems and greater uncertainty as to how the range is affected by snow-covered roads and cold temperatures.

Smart information increases the use of electric cars
The follow-up study shows that drivers who get to know their cars also dare to travel longer distances. One way of getting drivers to use more of their battery capacity is by means of specific examples, says Martina Wikström, who will shortly be defending her thesis on evaluating electric car procurement at the Royal Institute of Technology. 

“A rule of thumb such as ‘all trips within the municipality shall be made with electric cars’ has been shown to work well. The drivers realise just how hard it is to estimate the sum of several shorter trips during a day, and clearer communication works well in getting more people to opt for electric cars,” says Wikström. 

Fast chargers make electric car drivers feel more secure
Other studies show that access to fast chargers increases the length of trips and leads to better utilisation of the car’s battery capacity.

“The knowledge that fast charging stations are available makes drivers feel more secure even though most of them don’t actually use them. How the electric cars are used depends a lot on psychology and the organisational circumstances. So it’s no use just looking at the technical data when planning the future use of electric cars,” explains Wikström.

Irene Christensson

Irene Christensson

Annika Ramsköld with a Volvo V60 plug-in Hybrid

Several steps to fossil-free vehicle fleets
The results and experience gained from the electric car procurement project are important for Vattenfall’s ongoing efforts to promote the development of more chargeable vehicles by means of a series of initiatives.

Annika Ramsköld, Head of Sustainability at Vattenfall, says:
“Thus we are working together with Stockholm municipality, the Max hamburger chain and the Swedavia airport group on fast charging stations. Vattenfall is also working on the electric-hybrid bus route 73 in Stockholm together with Volvo Bus and SL (Stockholm’s local transport operator). The plug-in hybrid technology that we have developed jointly with Volvo is now being launched in new Volvo models. We are also a partner in the 2030-secretariat, an association of companies aiming to ensure that Sweden acquires a fossil-independent vehicle fleet by 2030.” 

Read the report  
Summary of the EV procurement project


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