12/01/22

Living with electric: EV pilot update

Annabel Roddy

Qcom deployed the first electric vehicle into its engineer fleet at the start of 2021, launching a trial to assess suitability for wider fleet use.

Having used the trial vehicle, a Kia e-Niro, for nearly 12 months across the south of England, our colleague Matt has been reflecting on what he has learned about living and working with it. 

Winter challenges

Encouragingly, Matt has found the car to be highly practical for everyday life: a good overall size; a reasonable boot; lots of leg room; and comfortably able to carry five people at full capacity.  

With the cold winter days and nights fast approaching, a drop in the car’s mileage has been noted from around 280 miles per full battery to 220-30 miles. While we were aware that the cold would cause a drop, it was something of a shock that the decline was this dramatic.  

In addition, the heating of the car uses the same battery source as the engine uses to power the engine, so at times, when the engineer has a small amount of mileage left, the heating must be taken off. While the heated seats, operating with a different battery, help to keep the passengers warm, this still causes issues and declines the driver’s comfort, especially with the cold winter days coming. The next model of the KIA e-Niro separates the engine battery to the heating battery, meaning that the passengers won’t have to endure the cold whilst trying to conserve miles ahead of re-charging the car. 

Safety first

This high-tech car includes a VESS (Virtual Engine Sound System) button – a feature that allows the car to operate in silence or with noise. Matt has stated the importance of driving with noise when in a busy area, or perhaps near a school. The button is very easy to operate and allows the driver to feel confident and comfortable with movement towards a noiseless vehicle.  

Alongside this, the car has a built-in beep that is used when reversing, to alert people nearby. Consequently, whether the VESS button is activated or not, safety measures are in place while the electrical vehicle reverses. 

While electricity prices are now at an all-time high, the electric vehicle is still proving to be significantly more cost effective than its fossil-fuelled predecessor, costing roughly £180.00 per month in comparison to £180.00 per week for its petrol- or diesel-powered equivalent. While we haven’t yet been able to install a home charging station for this vehicle, the trial has identified how important this will be to our engineers in future, allowing them to prepare the vehicle for the next day without intruding on personal time in the evening. 

The benefits of electric

Of course, alongside the cost-effective nature of the vehicle is the advantages it has for cutting down carbon emissions. This underpins the whole project, as part of Qcom’s commitment to reducing the carbon and environmental impacts from all aspects of our work.  

Senior Operations Manager Rob Heritage commented: “This trial continues to be valuable to Qcom, as we learn and experience the benefits of an electric vehicle. In addition, it has allowed our operations team to liaise closely with an engineer to better understand their needs, requirements and day-to-day procedures. Ultimately this will help us make sure that our fleet choices are the right ones for both the company and our nationwide team.” 

Click here to read the previous update from our electric vehicle fleet trial.

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