Suggested Citation: Woodjack, Justin, Dahlia Garas, Andy Lentz, Thomas S. Turrentine, Gil Tal, Michael A. Nicholas (2012) Learning about Electric Vehicle Range: Findings from the UC Davis MINI E Consumer Study. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-12-41
Popular media and even researchers commonly assume that battery electric vehicle (BEV) ownership will provide consumers less performance and mobility. A common claim is that consumers will have constant worry about the range of their BEV, often termed “range anxiety”. BMW converted 450 MINI Coopers to all-electric drive (named the MINI E) and leased them to fleets and 235 private households in the Los Angeles and New York/New Jersey regions from Spring 2009 to Spring 2010. Through the course of the one-year lease, UC Davis researchers conducted multiple online surveys, in-person interviews, and administered weeklong driving diaries. This paper explores the reactions of MINI E drivers to the range of the MINI E through the framework of a Lifestyle Learning Process. Over time, MINI E drivers learned how the 104-mile range of the MINI E fit into their lifestyles. Drivers adapted and explored with their MINI E through activities like altering driving behavior (such as speed and trip routes), optimizing charging opportunities, trip planning, and educating themselves on distances to destinations with the help of online mapping tools. In the course of the UC Davis MINI E Consumer Study, we found evidence suggesting that range was not a major concern among these early adopters. Even with no public charging available to their vehicle, 100 percent of survey respondents stated that BEVs are suitable for daily use. The results of this study will be of interest to policymakers and practitioners interested in expanding the BEV market.