The University of California at Davis has a long history of understanding plug-in vehicles and how people use plug-ins. After all, this is a school with a dedicated Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Research Center. The latest automaker to benefit from the UCD team is BMW, which is asking drivers of the all-electric MINI E how they use and what they think about their cars. The good news is that the findings of the year-long study will be made available to the public and the school believes it will "influence understanding of the future role of electric vehicles for many stakeholders, including electric utilities, governments and automakers." As a public university, it is fitting that UCD publish the results for all to see.
During the next year, UCD will ask 50 volunteer MINI E drivers questions, both online and in interviews, and will also collect data through travel diaries. The school will use a "global research methodology" that is also being used in the MINI E tests in Europe to collect and analyze the data.
BMW GROUP IN NORTH AMERICA PARTNERS WITH UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT DAVIS
- Leading Research Center to Conduct Study of Customer Experiences with Automaker's MINI E Electric Vehicle
- First Comprehensive Study of its Kind Since Mid-1990's to be Made Public to Benefit Future Electric Product Offerings Industry-wide
Marking the first comprehensive study of its kind since the mid-1990'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.
"We 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," said Jim McDowell, Vice President, MINI USA. "The 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."
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 Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program, will conduct the research. A world leader in the study of alternative fuel vehicles, UC Davis' 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.
"This 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," said Dr. Tom Turrentine, director of UC Davis' PHEV Research Center. "We 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."
A global research methodology, developed jointly by UC Davis and Germany's Technische Universität 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 Group's presence in California and the company'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.
About MINI E
The MINI E is the first product of BMW's project i, a program designed to research and develop transportation strategies and new types of vehicles specifically to meet the needs of the world's growing mega-cities. The MINI E can travel around 100 miles on a single charge, depending on driving style and conditions, while providing the characteristic agility and handling of a MINI Cooper. The zero-emissions car is powered by a 150-kilowatt electric motor with the equivalent of 201 hp, its energy supply coming from a high-performance rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The car, which made its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2008, can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 8.5 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 95 mph.
The 450 MINI Es that are currently on road in the U.S. for a 12-month field trial are being driven by combination of individuals, universities, not-for-profit organizations, commercial entities and municipalities.
BMW Group In America
BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003. The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls-Royce brand of Motor Cars; DesignworksUSA, a strategic design consultancy in California; a technology office in Silicon Valley and various other operations throughout the country. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is part of BMW Group's global manufacturing network and is the exclusive manufacturing plant for all X5 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 Sports Activity Coupes. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 338 BMW passenger car centers, 335 BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 142 BMW motorcycle retailers, 84 MINI passenger car dealers, and 30 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers. BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group's sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.