Electric vehicles reduce stress behind the wheel

May 2018, London, England

ELECTRIC VEHICLES REDUCE STRESS BEHIND THE WHEEL

Brain monitoring technology, used for the first time on drivers, found that electric vehicles make drivers calmer, happier and more focused​​

  • A study by LEVC (London EV Company) shows that electrically driven vehicles don’t just cut drivers’ fuel costs and help improve air quality – but can also reduce stress behind the wheel
  • For the first time, brain activity of cabbies in both electric and diesel taxis was monitored in a scientific test
  • Drivers of the new electric taxi (TX) were found to be more focussed, calmer and happier versus diesel models
  • Reducing stress is a key focus of Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May), hosted by the Mental Health Foundation
  • As cities place increasing importance on zero emission capable commercial vehicles to improve urban air quality, LEVC’s study potentially has wider positive mental health benefits for all professional drivers

A new study undertaken by LEVC has shown that the quieter driving environment of an electrically-driven vehicle can have significant mental health benefits. The work, in conjunction with academics from the University of York, has been released during Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May) which is focused on stress and stress reduction, and shows that moving from driving diesel to electric vehicles improves mental well-being for commercial vehicle drivers.

In a world first, LEVC commissioned an experiment to monitor mental activity – among a host of other physical factors – of drivers in both the new electrically-driven taxi and previous diesel model to find out if the quiet cabin of the state-of-the-art electric vehicle had an effect on the wellbeing of hard-working taxi drivers.

The test was designed and executed by acoustics expert Dr Duncan Williams of the University of York and took place in central London with four professional cabbies taking to the wheel of both vehicles and undertaking a series of trial drives.

An electroencephalogram, often referred to as a ‘brain cap’, was placed on the head of each driver. Electrodes within the cap monitored brain activity over a set route through the capital, giving previously unseen insight into the differing mental states between drivers of electric and diesel vehicles. Heart rate and audio readings were also taken too.

Driving the electric taxi, cabbies were found to be:

More focussed than when driving the diesel vehicle

  • Higher levels of beta brain wave activity were recorded by drivers in the electric vehicle, which indicates higher levels of active concentration. In short, while driving the electric taxi, drivers were freed up get on with driving
  • This was particularly noticeable when vehicles are waiting at traffic lights – a common situation for the London cabbie

Calmer than when driving the diesel vehicle

  • Heart rate was consistently less variable in the electric taxi than the diesel taxi, indicating greater mental calmness
  • The electric taxi was a less noisy working environment for the drivers with around 5dB less overall amplitude, and an increased dynamic range in comparison to recordings from the diesel taxi.

Happier than when driving the diesel vehicle

  • Additional driver survey data showed that the largest improvement over the diesel taxi reported by the drivers was increased happiness
  • This was followed by reduced stress and less distraction in the electric taxi

All the drivers who took part in the study had already clocked up many miles in the electric TX taxi and were familiar with its controls and driving behaviour.

New electric taxi
Used TX4 diesel taxi

Chris Gubbey, CEO of LEVC said:

“Our aim with the TX was to make the world’s most advanced taxi, a vehicle that would not only help reduce urban air pollution but improve comfort and convenience for passengers and drivers across the globe. We are delighted to find we have made a vehicle that is now proven to also make cabbies’ working lives better.

“Given that cabbies spend up to 12hrs a day driving, the vehicle is their office. We owe them a duty of care to provide the best working environment – and this study shows that driving our electric cab has a clear benefit for mental wellbeing. Next year we will be introducing a new electric light commercial vehicle , which means that the positive health implications of going electric will be extended to professional van drivers too.”

Dr Duncan Williams said:

This study proved hugely interesting. The drivers all reported being calmer, less stressed and happier in the electric taxi than in the old diesel model. Traditionally those feelings would correlate with more Alpha brain waves, which are a good indicator of relaxation. But when we looked at the data, the drivers’ showed more Beta brain waves, an indicator of mental activity and attention.

“What does this mean? Well, the study suggests that the quieter driving environment allowed cabbies to be in a more concentrated state of mind. In other words, by removing the noisy diesel engine rumble, they are perhaps freed up to get on with driving in a more focused, but calm way. It’s a fascinating result and, give
n the movement towards electric commercial vehicles, shows there are even more benefits of going electric than we might have previously thought.”

The all-new TX is powered by LEVC’s eCity technology comprising of an advanced electric powertrain with a small back-up petrol generator, giving a range of up to 377 miles including 80 miles with zero emissions, helping to improve urban air quality for all Londoners.

TX revolutionises the passenger experience with more space, six passenger seats, forward facing wheelchair access, power sockets for laptops, USB ports, on-board wifi, a panoramic roof and active & passive safety systems making it the world’s most advanced taxi.

Unlike the previous taxi, the vehicle’s multi-filter system works to remove gases and particles from the incoming air. In addition, an in-built air quality sensor also automatically closes the external air intake if it detects increased levels of pollution in the outside air – protecting passengers, and the driver, from the capital’s often poor-quality air.

World-class active and passive safety systems help to protect both the vehicle and other road users too. These include forward collision warnings, autonomous emergency breaking and emergency brake assistance, while the TX combines an extremely strong, rigid aluminium body shell with crash protection to the highest international standards, reinforcing the black cab trade’s reputation for safety.

Underpinned by an investment totalling £325m, LEVC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Geely, has the single-minded ambition to be the urban commercial vehicle provider of choice for cities across the globe. Its commercial vehicle strategy will see the new TX launched first followed by an electric LCV.

TX fully charged at the London Motor Show

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