By Richard Robinson
You have to love all the acronyms in use across our industry! The two in my headline relate to the recent Motor Ombudsman report, which highlighted that consumer disputes relating to electric vehicles (EVs) being handled by The Motor Ombudsman have almost tripled in Q1.
A total of 273 disputes were logged during the first quarter of this year, compared to 104 for the same period in 2022. I’m not shocked by the increase because it broadly reflects the growth in EV sales.
What I was interested in was the press releases concerning vehicle range.
Among the complaints, range gained greater prominence in the opening three months of this year at 12% (versus 6% in Q1 2022), with many EV owners reporting that they could not travel the distance on a full charge quoted by a retailer or manufacturer. This problem was accentuated due to reduced battery capacity in colder weather during winter.
We have been here before regarding range/MPG issues with ICE cars. Back in 2018, the fuel consumption of all new vehicles moved to the then-official EU test procedure called the WLTP – Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure. It replaced the discredited NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) test procedure. It was promoted as a significant change and one that would result in a more realistic and achievable official fuel consumption figure for new cars.
WLTP testing procedure is conducted in a laboratory setting. Unlike the NEDC, the WLTP uses more ‘real-world’ conditions for the test cycle, including higher average driving speeds, longer driving times, faster acceleration sequences, maximum speeds and shorter/ less frequent resting periods. The testing cycle does not include the use of air conditioning, headlights or auxiliary equipment, and the driving profile does not represent all driving conditions.
According to one recent article on EVs and WLTP, when it comes to pure battery EVs (BEVs), the use of air conditioning, auxiliary services, number of passengers, weather, ambient temperature, road conditions, tyres, EV battery state of charge and different driving profiles, then the real-world electric range can be reduced by 30%. Arguably in a cold and dark, potentially damp UK Q1, things are at their worst for a BEV.
The Motor Ombudsman has been transparent on the issue with a dedicated section that notes: “If you feel that your EV is not achieving the range advertised for a full battery charge, there are a number of factors that you may need to consider before raising a dispute with a manufacturer or seller of the vehicle.
“The range stated in brochures or adverts is often quoted as having been obtained through WLTP, so will not be representative of your daily usage.”
However, The Motor Ombudsman is often a post-purchase experience. What should dealers and OEMs do to highlight the reality of BEV range and the factors that can impact a real-world UK experience for would-be buyers, especially when range remains a concern?
I welcome your thoughts.