Preliminary considerations on the ECOBEST Challenge
The ‘ECOBEST Challenge 2022, electrified by VINFAST’ and supported by Quattroruote, is the first European independent real traffic test of mainstream EVs to reveal the real green credentials. It remains the only such test with a transparent, neutral and balanced approach. The results come from a consistent methodology of testing performed identically on all 14 cars. This methodology is inspired by the practical needs and driving behaviour of most European motorists, coming from the habits in their daily commuting.
It is not designed pro or con to any models or brands and is neither a typical motoring media comparative test nor a record-breaking range test or – by contrast – a rally speed test to check how agile EVs are. The ECOBEST Challenge states the results and does not comment on the differences between models in the test. The test results are available to European consumers as a basis for their decision-making process.
The key findings
As a consequence of this unbiased approach, the real range results show – with two exceptions – that WLTP is a bit more optimistic in comparison to driving in real traffic. The majority of the tested models did not achieve their homologated WLTP figure. However, all the cars reached more than 71% of the minimum WLTP reference used in all the indexes.
Last year AUTOBEST introduced a key index named EcoC 2, representing the quintessential idea of EV energy efficiency. It is simply how many kilometres of actual range one kWh of the battery can offer for a specific model.
“Compared with the previous edition, we discovered a smaller average EcoC 2 index for all the cars tested this year. The most efficient car managed only 6.65 km/ kWh compared with the remarkable last year’s record of more than 8.2 km/ kWh. Based on this evolution, we emphasise the urgent need for all EV producers worldwide to focus on how the energy is spent on the car’s propulsion. In the new era of electromobility, we need to achieve 10 km/ kWh of battery in the next years. It is an imperative mission of the entire industry to make the best use of onboard energy. This year ECOBEST Challenge proved a step back from this mission,” stated Dan Vardie, Founder and Chairman of AUTOBEST and ECOBEST Challenge. The lowest EcoC 2 at the test was only 4.49 km/ kWh, far less than any car tested last year.
The ECOBEST Challenge is one of the only independent tests in Europe measuring what happens after the battery reserve indicator reaches zero. All the cars have been driven to a total depletion of the battery when the cars stop entirely. AUTOBEST is happy to deliver good news to all motorists: except for two cars, there is still life in a battery once it indicates zero on the cluster. Twelve cars proved between 3 and 23 kilometres of driving remained. Two cars ‘died’ immediately after the battery cluster indicated zero. Compared with last year, this test shows an apparent decrease in the battery reserve left at the disposal of motorists in a difficult situation. However, AUTOBEST recommends keeping this as a strategic reserve of the battery and better never entering the situation to use it.
Another interesting result of the ECOBEST Challenge is the energy needed to fully charge cars with totally depleted batteries. All the vehicles required more energy than the capacity of the batteries, between 3.2% and 16.5%. The figures are far better than last year, showing the industry’s capability to reduce loss during the charging process.
The explanation for the additional consumption when recharging is studied and has several causes. Around 5% of energy is lost when transformed from AC (grid) to DC (battery). Some energy powers all the car systems used for charging, mainly the inverter but also the software, the socket, and everything related to the process. Energy is used to cool the battery during the process (this energy increases with fast charging, especially in hot climatic conditions). The state of the batteries and the charger type may also generate some losses.
In our continuous improvement, AUTOBEST has added the EcoC 4 index, an additional parameter for evaluating the true efficiency of electric cars. It measures how many kilometres the car runs on a single kWh considering not the nominal net capacity of the battery but the total amount of energy supplied by the charger to fill it. Of the cars featured in the test, we are talking about values between just over 3% to 16% more. Above all the explanations we mentioned, the driver pays for energy, and these supplementary kWhs are ‘escaping’ the trip computer.
As another premiere of this edition, we measured the AC and DC Fast Charging processes with great accuracy, using 22 kW AC stations and 350 kW DC stations which delivered to all the cars in test the maximum capacity to recharge. We also measured the time needed for the charging process.
“Here we able to deliver probably the best news for the many millions of motorists still been reluctant for the time needed for fast charging. In DC we got a record of only 7 minutes to charge for 100 kilometres! This time is an incredible achievement, showing that we are coming closer to the moment when the time for a full charge will be similar to the one filling the tank with conventional fuels. With this impressive result, we also reiterate the need for a capable DC Super-Fast charging network everywhere in Europe as the best solution to address the range anxiety and the time needed for the charging process,” said Dan Vardie. The longest time encountered in the DC charging process was 27 minutes for 100 kilometres. Each car’s maximum charging capacity determines this time.
Two important notes: for the AC, we charged the batteries from 0 to 100%, and for DC, the charging process was 20% – 80%, the most common recommended cycle for such charging. The timings for charging 100 kilometres is an average of the entire charging process and has to be understood as such. As we noticed, charging rates are not linear during the DC fast-charging. AUTOBEST has all the charging graphs, which are a part of the data available on request.
Alessio Viola, the road test chief editor of Quattroruote, said: “We all know that this transition will not be easy for various reasons, but it is good to see that, year by year, each edition of the ECOBEST Challenge demonstrates that electric cars are making small but significant steps towards total daily usability. Indeed, in many ways they are ready, also because an electric car is not just about its range: charging times also matter a lot. And, in this sense, it’s time the infrastructures to really grow.”
To get precise and complete data in the EcoBest Challenge 2022, AUTOBEST, in close cooperation with Quattroruote Centro Prove, used Power checK Control (PKC) to analyse and certify an electric car. Since it is connected in real-time with the car via a Bluetooth Onboard Diagnostic II (OBDII) dongle, PKC accesses many parameters about the actual battery status: the SoC (State of Charge), the SoH (State of Health), the temperature, the car’s speed, weather conditions, the power used or regenerated by the car, the power during the charging phase and other relevant factors. EV drivers may get this expertise in daily life using Power Cruise Control. PCC suggests the right charging points along the route and precisely calculates how much kWh you need to charge. And to use it in the best way, this software gives constant feedback to the driver via an intuitive interface called the Heaven-Hell indicator.
Please see the Annex tables with all the relevant results to see all results.
DC Charging Real Data 20-80 – 350 kW Charger
How the ECOBEST Challenge electrified by VINFAST was organised
It took place in Vairano, where the ASC proving ground of Quattroruote is based, near Milano. The professional motoring journalists of AUTOBEST drove 14* electric vehicles available in Europe (all with more than 300 kilometres of homologated WLTP range and a price list under €65,000 before taxes) to answer the most common question people ask when looking for an electric car.
The test started and finished at Vairano ASC, where we also recharged the cars. All the vehicles tested were regular production models with one person on board, climate system and infotainment equipment active and the tyre pressure recommended by the brand. All the cars were driven in ‘Normal’ mode and using Brake mode in the city environment when available.
Using a mixed trip, all the vehicles travelled a series of three circuits with different lengths with motorways (50%), conventional roads (20%) and urban environments (30%).
All the drivers changed cars every 30 kilometres to avoid any individual effect of the driving style in the results. All vehicles drove in convoy behind a leader, establishing the average speed and respecting the speed limits at all times.
After reaching the indication of 0% battery and/or 0 Km range appearing on the cluster, cars continued to run in the Vairano ASC until their complete stop.
*AUTOBEST intended to have 15 cars in the test, but just few days before the start, Tesla announced they could not provide the promised Model Y. To replace the missing care was simply impossible at such short notice.
The ‘ECOBEST Challenge 2021’ was organised in partnership with VINFAST, the emerging Vietnamese manufacturer that will launch two new EVs on the European markets in the first half of next year. “I use this opportunity to thank the great support of VINFAST in organising our EV test. Although VINFAST has no cars in the test, the involvement is a part of its commitment to electromobility, giving the European consumer a fair chance to benefit from this process. These are values we share entirely at AUTOBEST,” added Dan Vardie.
AUTOBEST also thanks the leading title Quattroruote, widely considered the Italian car bible, for the full logistical and technical support.
The cooperation with Oppo and e-gap is also highly appreciated.
As the organiser of the ECOBEST Challenge, AUTOBEST stands behind all the results and figures resulting from an unbiased test conducted precisely in the same manner for all the cars. AUTOBEST is confident that all the results are much closer to reality than the WLTP homologated figures. Therefore, AUTOBEST is inviting all European motorists to use all the info provided to decide based on their needs. The aim of the ECOBEST Challenge is not to rank the 15 cars but to offer an average reference that can lead to a more realistic option for each and every European consumer. There are no worse or good vehicles and ranges. Everyone should make a personal choice based on their individual mobility needs. AUTOBEST believes there is no car able to satisfy all the consumers’ possible needs. The ECOBEST Challenge provides an average obtained under certain conditions of landscape, temperature, cycle of testing etc. Although we believe we are very close to the ideal average, AUTOBEST is not claiming this.
ECOBEST Challenge is organized by Autobest annually as a community activity of the business. The ECOBEST Challenge 2022 – Electrified by VinFast is part of a strategic collaboration agreement inked between VinFast and AUTOBEST in 2022. The event this year is also supported by Quattroruote in Vairano, Italy
The prestigious AUTOBEST jury consists of 31 Jury members coming from 31 European countries. In addition, key international media members are invited to test-drive the cars on various roads, motorways, and city environments in Quattroruote Vairano to ensure that results are backed by the utmost transparency and reliability.
ECOBEST Challenge 2022 took place from October 25th to 27th 2022, and attracted 14 electric cars from 13 different well-known manufacturers such as Renault, Volvo, Kia Niro, Skoda, Hyundai, Audi, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Ford, BMW but also new comers like Aiways, MG and Seres.
The 14 different electric vehicle models had a minimum homologated range of 200 kilometers priced up to €65,000 before taxes. Testing occurred on diverse terrain and traffic conditions to ensure the most realistic test results. Specifically, in terms of terrain, the cars were tested on a mixed route with motorways, roads, and city environments. As for testing vehicle operations, every model was driven until battery depletion, under normal conditions on roads and motorways, and in Eco mode while running in the city.
All test drivers were encouraged to behave normally with their real-life driving styles and tried all the onboard technologies, such as air-conditioning, sound systems, navigation systems, and other connected technologies. Additionally, to avoid any driving style biases, drivers switched cars every 25 kilometers.
“Electric vehicle is becoming a key trend in Europe, with many people considering the purchase of electric cars. “The ECOBEST Challenge – Electrified by VinFast” is delivering real information on the range a customer can expect from the car. The entire driving method comes down to an average based on the randomized “human factor” defined by AUTOBEST and based on the diversity of members coming from all around Europe,” says Mr. Dan Vardie, the Founder & Chairman of AUTOBEST.
Ms. Ho Thanh Huong, CEO of VinFast in Europe shared: “Both aiming toward the goal of accelerating electrification in Europe, VinFast and AUTOBEST are proud to accompany European consumers on their transition to electrified mobility by delivering transparent information of electric vehicles. In addition, embracing the customer-centric philosophy, VinFast believes that the cooperation with AUTOBEST, a reputed organization and European jury, will help VinFast establish close connection with customers in the journey approaching and convincing the European markets.”
With a prominent jury, tough criteria, and an objective evaluation process, this is a “golden” opportunity for participating automobile manufacturers to reassert their quality and commitments to consumers in the entire European market. VinFast is expected to join the challenge when its vehicles are officially available in the region.
ECOBEST Challenge- Electrified by VINFAST 2022 Press Conference
In 2009 AUTOBEST launched ECOBEST Challenge project, as a world’s first project for measurements of consumption, CO2 emissions, pollutants and micro particles. ECOBEST Challenge was launched years before Diesel gate scandal, with the aim to give consumer real data in real life traffic.