Official Release: BMW of North America and the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) today announced their partnership on a year-long field study to determine the viability of electric vehicles. MINI E customers, based primarily in Los Angeles with a few in the New York City-area, will participate in the study.
Marking the first comprehensive study of its kind since the mid-1990â€™s, the UC Davis- led research will focus on user interactions with the MINI E, and is expected to yield valuable insights into real-life usage and perceptions about electric vehicles. The study will gather in-depth information from 50 voluntary participants, a subset of the 450 MINI E customers in the U.S., through online travel diaries, written questionnaires and a series of interviews conducted throughout the one-year study.
â€œWe are delighted to collaborate with UC Davis on this research initiative for MINI E as our company ventures beyond conventional drive technologies to pioneering electric mobility solutions,â€ said Jim McDowell, Vice President, MINI USA. â€œThe findings will accelerate the understanding of real-world electric driving and both shape future product development within the BMW Group and benefit the mainstream U.S. automotive market when this technology trickles down.â€
The UC Davis Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Research Center, administered by the Institute of Transportation Studies and funded by a three-year, $3-million grant from the California Energy Commissionâ€™s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program, will conduct the research. A world leader in the study of alternative fuel vehicles, UC Davisâ€™ findings will be made public and will influence understanding of the future role of electric vehicles for many stakeholders, including electric utilities, governments and automakers.
â€œThis is an exciting opportunity to talk with users about their daily experience of the cars, about their driving habits and impressions of the electric vehicles,â€ said Dr. Tom Turrentine, director of UC Davisâ€™ PHEV Research Center. â€œWe are pleased as a public university to be partnering with BMW to find solutions to our urgent public problems of transportation energy supply and environmental impacts.â€
A global research methodology, developed jointly by UC Davis and Germanyâ€™s Technische UniversitÃ¤t Chemnitz (TU Chemnitz), will form the basis for the study and will ensure consistency across the U.S. and European markets, where similar MINI E studies are planned for Berlin, Munich, and London.
The partnership with UC Davis is a natural outgrowth of BMW Groupâ€™s presence in California and the companyâ€™s commitment to fostering collaborations with major academic institutions on both the East and West coasts of the U.S. BMW Group has three California-based facilities dedicated to design, technology and innovation, including: DesignworksUSA, which provides design services to the technology, aircraft and agricultural industries as well as a number of consumer goods companies; the Technology Office in Palo Alto, a first-of-its-kind among European manufacturers when it opened in 1998, with access to non-automotive innovations; and an Engineering and Emissions Test Center in Oxnard, with responsibility for testing future engines and propulsion systems.