CABLED project

CABLED was the first major collaborative project TMETC entered into. It was closely linked to TMETC's Tata Vista electric vehicle (EV) development programme, with TMETC taking 25 Vista EVs from the internal programme to feed them into this demonstration project.

Project outline

CABLED was the West Midlands' bid to the Technology Strategy Board's (TSB) competition for ultra low carbon demonstrator vehicles in early 2009. It was a £5m programme that was 50% funded by the TSB, now renamed Innovate UK, and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

A consortium of 12 organisations was formed; Arup was the project manager, with five vehicle manufacturers supporting, two of which were Land Rover and Tata Motors (TMETC). Birmingham City Council and Coventry City Council supported, with E.ON being the electricity supplier. Aston, Birmingham and Coventry Universities completed the consortium.

Some 110 vehicles from six different manufacturers participated in the project, including full electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

Project aims

The main aims of the projects were:

  • Vehicle development - enabling OEMs to continue development of their low emission vehicles while gaining field and customer experience
  • Deploy public charging infrastructure
  • Demonstrate practicality of low emission vehicles
  • Understand vehicle recharging and driving patterns of users
  • Gain user feedback on new vehicle technologies, particularly EVs

Project scope

Users selected to give a wide socio-economic background, and a range of car usage:

  • 12 month trial
  • 1st vehicles on roads in December 2009
  • Remainder through 2010 and 2011
  • Charging points installed at homes of users
  • Charging points installed at workplaces
  • 36 public charging points located in Birmingham and Coventry
  • New hydrogen charging station in Coventry University
Project outcomes

While each of the project partners had their own objectives for low emission vehicle technology development, the field data gathered from the vehicle fleet was shared among the consortium members. Of particular interest to TMETC was data relating to the use of battery electric vehicles where, at that time, there was very little data in the public domain.

CABLED EV drivers used their cars like the typical UK driver with some stark findings:

  • The majority of journeys (>75%) are less than 8km
  • Average mileage for all users is approx 23 miles
  • Only between 3 and 5% of users travelled more than 45 miles in any journey
  • Maximum daily mileage grew from 100 to 124 miles as drivers grew more confident about the use of EVs, over the course of the trials
Summary of outcomes

Over the 12-month trial period the vehicle fleet performed very well with only minor issues. All vehicles were fitted with data loggers so TMETC also acquired detailed usage and technical performance data. It quickly became apparent that the 'range anxiety' concern was not as real an issue as had been perceived, but one that did require careful journey planning to ensure sufficient charge, or charge time and availability at the destination, to enable the planned round trip.

Over the trial period, Tata Vista EVs had over 300,000 miles on public roads, which resulted in significant knowledge derived on the behaviour and durability of the key EV drivetrain components and systems, with the results being generally a pleasant surprise for such new technologies. This knowledge base is now being used by TMETC and Tata Motors engineers for future EV and hybrid product development.