On the occasion of Mobility Week earlier in September, Alphabet made several MINI Electric cars available to imec’s employees for a few weeks. The Leuven-based research and innovation hub wanted to introduce employees to electric driving and encourage them to choose an EV for their next company car or private car. This opportunity and the additional information provided by Alphabet are now paying off: “Honestly? I’m really sad to be returning the keys to the test car,” one employee said.
Thanks to this initiative, imec’s employees were able to test out electric driving for themselves in September and experience what the advantages can be compared with their current driving behaviour and habits. In addition, they were also treated to an informative digital presentation about the cost of EVs, with practical information and testimonials. The idea was to inspire them to choose an electric company car or private car in the near future.
Clear information and testing make all the difference
The webinar about electric driving earlier this year revealed that while drivers do consider switching to an EV, they still have a whole lot of practical questions. That is why Alphabet offered imec - with whom it entered into an exclusive partnership for the entire fleet in 2018 - this opportunity. The combination of driving an EV for several days and a digital info session, which was attended by no fewer than 46 imec employees, ensured that imec’s employees can make informed choices about their next company car.
By letting people experience electric driving and providing sufficient information, a number of frequently heard concerns such as range anxiety can be addressed. For example, Alphabet explained in its presentation that four out of five drivers only drive a maximum of 50 km every day. Moreover, 70% of EV charging is done by owners at home, 20% at work and a mere 10% en route.
“A nice driving experience, an adequate range and environmentally-friendly too”
Alphabet asked imec’s employees to share their first impressions of EVs - and they were unanimously positive.
- K.M.: “Driving an electric car is a fantastic experience. I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to get one for weekly trips and normal commuting. What’s more, these cars offer a completely different experience than traditional cars. They’re much more high-tech. My next car will be an electric vehicle again. Battery technology will undoubtedly provide an even better experience in the future.”
- P.J.: “The longest distance that I cover with my EV is my daily commute, which is approximately 70 km. This is perfectly within the car’s range. All the more so because I can charge it at work during the day. Electric driving is also very pleasant. The car responds immediately and is much quieter. I would definitely recommend an EV. The prices have also dropped sharply, there are sufficient tax benefits, and there is already a wide choice. Finally, for me personally, I find the environmental aspect very important: I’m really motivated to go green by driving an electric car to reduce the use of fossil fuels for our transportation.”
- S.T.: “If you don’t drive more than 200 km a day on average and can install a charging station at home, then I’d always choose an electric car. What’s more, it’s great fun to drive! I mainly use my car for short distances, but if I have to go to Eindhoven for example, I always find a charging station on-site. I charge my EV at home three quarters of the time, and 20% of the time at work.”
Results internal survey
After a few weeks about 30 employees tested the MINI-E and send their feedback about their electric driving experience through a survey. Electric driving got a general score of 4.3/5 and these are the aspects that were most appreciated:
- No CO2 emissions and the corresponding sustainability aspect, the idea that you drive a 'non-polluting' car.
- The silence while driving.
- The smooth and dynamic driving pleasure.
- A solid acceleration and rapid responsiveness.
- Comfortable interior with good seats and very accurate navigation system.
It feels like the 'new' driving experience and makes the choice for an 'old' technology much less obvious. No exhaust or noise production, it also clearly feels better.
Of course there are also some aspects that were less appreciated:
- Regenerative brakes: the car slows down as soon as you release the accelerator pedal, which still requires some adjustment in driving behaviour because you have to get used to it.
- The price remains quite high for a fairly small car.
- Limited choice of models.
The maximum range of 200 km is too limited for some users and for others just enough. This shows the importance to reflect upfront about the driver’ profile and to investigate the average distance the driver undertakes on a daily base.
It was getting used to the "spontaneous brake" but once used to it, I thought it was great to drive like this.
All participants were very enthusiastic about this initiative between imec and Alphabet and had a very positive experience to learn more about electric driving. About 33% of respondents indicate that they would choose an electric car as the next (company) car, 11% says definitely no and 56% of those surveyed haven’t decided yet.
In any way, we at Alphabet will continue to further raise awareness and convince drivers about electric driving.
imec is the world’s leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technology. imec is a trusted partner of companies, start-ups and universities, bringing together more than 4,000 top scientists from almost 100 countries. imec has its headquarters in Leuven and R&D groups spread across a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan and the USA, and offices in China, India and Japan.