Thanks to a large survey carried out among 2,732 electric car owners, it is possible to draw up a composite portrait of the electric car that everyone likes. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t exist (yet)!
Two car enthusiasts behind the record for crossing Europe present the EV Chain on YouTube, followed by nearly 50,000 subscribers. Recently, they launched a large survey within their community to further understand drivers’ preferences and expectations when it comes to electric cars. The first results allowed us to show that the overwhelming majority of owners did not see themselves switching to thermal again. A conclusion that we also reached following a survey published on our YouTube channel. Today, a new analysis of the results highlights the different criteria that are important to drivers. Enough to list the characteristics of THE electric car that everyone is waiting for!
An exhaustive investigation
As a reminder, 3,659 participants from all regions of France, whether they live in the city or in the countryside, voluntarily responded anonymously to the online questionnaire offered by the EV Chain. The numerous questions addressed various subjects such as recharging, choice of vehicle, equipment, assumptions, etc. It may be interesting to note that the typical participant is a man (96% of participants) aged 30 to 60 years (80%) and an electric car user (75%). It should also be noted that only owners of a zero-emission vehicle, i.e. 2,732 participants, had to answer the questions that interest us today.
The type of body
To begin with, the EV Chain wondered what type of bodywork electric car drivers prefer to opt for. Several choices per participant were possible and it was for example possible to choose “SUV” and “station wagon”, or just “SUV”. In the end, we realize that the bodywork which obtains the most votes turns out to be the hatchback ! Next come the SUV, then the classic trunk sedan, ahead of the station wagon. A result which may surprise, but which above all shows that the sedan has not said its last word against the SUV, provided that it has a sufficiently accessible trunk.
We know that autonomy is, along with price, one of the obstacles to the development of electric mobility. Many people expect an electric vehicle to have the same range as a thermal vehicle. If no model currently sold in France offers a WLTP autonomy of 1000 km, we can still wonder at what mileage this becomes acceptable. Thus, to the question “You would like your future electric car to have a WLTP range of…”, almost half wanted it. between 400 and 550 km. A distance generally made possible with a battery pack of 60 kWh capacity and which is found on a large number of models such as the Tesla Model Y rear-wheel drive, the MG4 Luxury, or the Renault Megane EV60. A significant percentage of participants (39.4%) still showed interest in a greater autonomy, i.e. up to 750 km. With such values, few vehicles can come close. We can cite for example the Tesla Model S which, with 19-inch rims, offers 723 km of WLTP autonomy, or the future Peugeot e-3008 which announces 700 km.
During long journeys, in addition to the range, what also counts is of course the charging speed. Therefore, we can ask ourselves the same question, namely: from what duration does this become acceptable? The choices offered ranged from less than 10 minutes, to less than 40 minutes. However, it is clear that more than half of the participants considered that a duration of less than 20 minutes (but more than 10 minutes) was comfortable. If we take into account the 31.2% who responded “less than 30 minutes”, we can deduce that the vast majority agree on 20 minutes as being a satisfactory waiting time. And that’s good, since that’s more or less what most electric road cars offer today to make a 20-80%. This is particularly the case for Hyundai and Kia in 800V, Tesla, BMW, Mercedes, etc.
La Chaine EV also questioned electric car owners about their interest in certain charging technologies: wireless charging, battery swapping, plug and charge, or even preconditioning. If the first two do not seem to attract attention, it is quite the opposite with regard to plug and charge and preconditioning. As a reminder, plug and charge is a simplified charging experience by eliminating the need for manual authentication or RFID card. It allows the driver to simply plug in the charging cable, and the system automatically takes care of authentication and payment, providing added convenience and simplicity during the charging process.
As for preconditioning, this is a system that will heat (or cool) the batteries so that they are at the right temperature once they arrive at the terminal, and thus optimize the charging speed. On this subject, two thirds of participants favor a mixed system which is both automatic and manual, that is to say it can be activated (or deactivated) manually on demand depending on the situation. It will be recalled here that preconditioning has an impact on the vehicle’s consumption throughout the duration of its use.
Regenerative braking and “One Pedal” driving
One of the big advantages of electric compared to thermal in terms of driving pleasure is regenerative braking. The latter manifests itself as a sensation of deceleration when the foot is removed from the accelerator, simulating engine braking without requiring the use of traditional brakes. Above all, it allows kinetic energy to be recovered when slowing down by transforming part of this energy into electricity to recharge the battery, which extends the vehicle’s range. So, the more powerful it is, the greater the deceleration, and the more energy it stores. It is moreover strong regenerative braking which is most appreciated. Some models of electric cars have paddles on the steering wheel that modulate this power. This is the case of the Renault Megane for example, or even the Hyundai and the Kia. This is a possibility that nevertheless does not seem to attract unanimous support, since only 32.9% support it. On the other hand, to be able to choose the strength, and not touching it again is the option chosen by 63.6%. Usually, electric cars allow you to choose between one or more levels of regeneration via the vehicle menu.
If we add the fact of going until the vehicle comes to a complete stop when the accelerator pedal is released, we then speak of one-pedal driving. From then on, with a little anticipation, there is almost no need to touch the brake. For those who have never tasted it, it does not necessarily seem like a “must have”. On the other hand, when this function is present, it becomes difficult to do without it for 91.8% of participants!
When we buy a car, in addition to its characteristics, our choice is also based on the options and equipment. Does it have a reversing camera or just parking sensors? Is there a heads-up display? A smart GPS? So many criteria that were submitted to the participants. It appears that particular attention is given to tools allowing journeys to be made with complete peace of mind. Indeed, who says electric car, says adapted ecosystem. And this happens above all through a route planner efficient. In other words, in addition to referencing all the charging stations, the GPS must also indicate the battery percentage on arrival when a journey is simulated, with the different charging stops. A possibility which is not present on all electrics, but which is tending to become more popular. We will also note the interest in a mobile application allowing you to manage the car (know its state of charge, plan a recharge, start heating, etc.).
The electric car that everyone wants
To summarize, the ideal electric car is a hatchback, with 500 km of WLTP range, and which recharges in 20 minutes via the plug and charge protocol. It must also have an automatic AND manual preconditioning function, must have a route planner that provides information on the battery percentage at the destination, and must be connected to a comprehensive mobile application. As for regenerative braking, it must be strong, with the One Pedal function. A description which ultimately does not respond to any market model, but which allows us to understand why some sell better than others. The Tesla Model 3, for example, checks a lot of these boxes. Note that among the free responses to the question “Is there another important criterion in your eyes?”, many answered efficiency.
So, faced with this vision of the ideal electric car, a question arises: which manufacturer will be the first to realize this identikit so coveted by drivers? And above all, what revolutionary innovations will we see emerge in the coming years to meet the needs of those who resist electric mobility? Time will tell !
Automobile Propre and I would like to thank the Chaine EV for sharing with us the results of its major survey on electric cars.
Don’t look for the perfect electric car, it doesn’t exist
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